Monarch Volleyball drops weekend series against FIU

By Noah Fort, Associate Sports Editor

Originally published October 25, 2021.


This weekend, the ODU Women’s Volleyball team (11-9) faced off against the FIU Panthers (4-11) in a double-header, playing on Friday and Saturday. The ODU community and student body came out and brought their roar for the two game homestead. The Monarchs came off of a home win and lost against the Marshall Herd last weekend. The Panthers come off as a split of their own against the FAU Owls. The starters for ODU were Hailey Duncan, Teresa Atilano, Jamie Bissmeyer, Kiara Smith, Olivia De Jesus, Myah Conway, Jordan Daniel, Anna Burkhardt, and Alessia Sgherza. The Monarchs’ outside hitter Kira Smith and Middle Blocker Olivia De Jesus were players to look out for, as last week Smith earned Conference-USA Player of the Week while De Jesus earned it the week prior.


The first set was an on again off again battle as both teams traded points several times. When ODU scored, FIU would score and vice versa. After ODU took a timeout with them down 25-26, FIU took full advantage of their discussion as they came out of the huddle scoring two straight points. Thus, it wasn’t until the score was 22-23 that the Panthers took over claiming the first set 27-25. The second set was major for the Monarchs, as they played dominant right off the bat going on a lead of 10-5. The Panthers slowly came back, but the Monarchs held on to win the second set 25-21. For sets one and two, ODU led in kills and hitting percentage. They had a total of 28 kills and a hitting percentage of .586, compared to FIU’s 25 kills and 0.42 hitting percentage.


Feeding off of the energy of their home crowd, ODU had their sights on winning set three. However, this energy was not enough, as the Panthers went on an early lead of 4-1. They kept their foot on the gas and won the set 25-16. Looking to keep their hopes alive, the Monarchs brought the roar to set four as it came down to the wire. The Panthers were trading points left and right with the Monarchs all the way up to when it was tied 20-20. It wasn’t until ODU led 21-20 that the momentum shifted in favor of FIU for a second after a challenge was called by FIU Head Coach Rita Buck-Crockett. She successfully won her challenge, tying the game 21-21. It was from there that FIU would go up 23-21. However, ODU came back to tie it up 26-26. They went on to take the set, winning it 28-26 after a 2-0 scoring run. The run was led by outside hitter Alessia Sgherza as she got two tenacious kills for the Monarchs. She finished set three with a whopping total of 18 kills. On top of that, she got six digs and three blocks.


It was in set five that the Monarchs lost their momentum. They committed a total of nine attack errors in the fifth set. In the game total, they had 36 errors. It was mainly attack and service errors committed by the Monarchs that led to their defeat. In addition, another successful challenge called by coach Buck-Crockett gave FIU momentum in the fifth set, as previously stated in the third set. Unfortunately for the Monarchs, this led to FIU winning the set 15-9 capping their 3-2 match win and Monarch defeat.


On the team’s loss and performance, ODU Head Coach Fred Chao said, “We just didn’t put together a complete match.” Regarding room for improvement, he went on to say “None of this is ever easy. It’s just a matter of when we can fight through and deal with those things. Sometimes, you have to learn these painful lessons and get back at it. Without these experiences you expect everything to go well, and when it doesn’t, you start to panic or play a different way. Again as we go through all of our experiences as a young team. Knowing what this feels like now, the hope is that we can file this away. It will be a scar because it definitely hurts, but that’s how you get tougher.”


ODU would go on to lose against FIU in their second matchup on Saturday. They were swept three sets to none with the Panthers winning set one 27-25, set two 25-8, and set three 25-23. FIU dominated in hitting percentage with a .340 compared to ODU’s .162. On how the Monarchs can bounce back on the road against WKU, Olivia De Jesus is confident in her team. “I think we know Western Kentucky’s gonna be a tough team, but I’ll still be proud of ourselves if we’re efficient and play our game,” De Jesus said. “I know that sounds very typical for a team to say but I just need us to play well so we can feel good about ourselves. So whichever way the match goes, I think we can still feel good about ourselves.”


Old Dominion falls to 11-11 on the season and 3-5 in conference play. The Monarchs will hit the road next week as they travel to Bowling Green, Kentucky to face off with the Hilltoppers of Western Kentucky. WKU is the top team in the east division of C-USA and are 20-1 on the season with a perfect 8-0 record in conference play. It will be a tough road test for ODU as they look to upset the Hilltoppers and break their three-game losing streak. The Thursday and Friday matches will both start at 7 p.m.