ODU Volleyball Closes Season with Weekend Sweep over MTSU

By Jalen Hannah, Associate Sports Editor

Originally published November 8, 2021.


The volleyball program at ODU is still new, with this season being only the second year of the program’s history. Nonetheless, the Conference USA volleyball tournament is going to be hosted in Norfolk at ODU’s new patented volleyball center. With this weekend being the finale to the regular season, this was the last chance for the home team to make their case for the tournament. A weekend sweep over Middle Tennessee was a great way for the Monarchs to show that they are a competitive team and belong in the tournament.


ODU came into this weekend looking to bounce back after a disappointing road trip to Western Kentucky last weekend. The club saw themselves on the wrong side of a weekend sweep, losing both games in three sets. This put the team in a tough spot in the Conference USA standings, and their chances of clinching a spot in the tournament wasn’t exactly in their favor. However, they still had a chance. Losing this weekend basically meant the season was over, and ODU simply refused to let their own performance be the reason that happened.


Middle Tennessee came into the weekend with a record of 8-8, meaning that they were also looking to punch their ticket into the tournament. Both teams were going to put their all into this weekend’s meeting, so ODU knew that they would have to come in with the right mindset. Luckily for the Monarchs, they were going to be hosting, meaning the crowd was going to have their back the whole weekend. It was an even bigger plus to start the weekend series on Friday, which was senior night. Before the match, the three seniors on the team were recognized. Those seniors are #5 Julia Dunning, #6 Hailey Duncan, and #11 Alessia Sgherza. After recognizing and showing appreciation to the seniors, the first match of the weekend began and things quickly got intense..


The first set was going back and forth in the early going, but ODU found themselves down 15-21, which forced Coach Chao to use a timeout to instill some energy into his team. Whatever he spoke to them in the timeout must’ve worked because after that, the Monarchs rallied back to make the score 20-22, forcing Middle Tennessee into a timeout. ODU had all the momentum at this point, and the crowd erupted when the home team finally tied the score at 23 a piece. ODU was able to show early in the match that they weren’t going to give in so easily and fought all the way back in the first set, eventually winning it 27-25. ODU’s rally came with a little help from Middle Tennessee as well, as they had 14 total errors in the first set alone.


The second set didn’t go so well for ODU, as they found themselves trailing 6-13 early on. Chao called for another timeout, but there wouldn’t be a comeback for this set. Middle Tennessee dominated in this one, winning the set 25-12. ODU had a lackluster hitting percentage, as they only connected on .037 percent of the time in this set compared to the .077 percent that they had in the first set. This tied the series for the match at one a piece, and set the stage for a bounce back performance in the third.


Old Dominion got off to a good start to the third set, leading 9-5 early on. From that point on, they kept a comfortable lead in the set and cruised to a win in the fourth set 25-22. This set them up for a possible match clinching set in the fourth. The two teams went back and forth early in the fourth set until ODU called a timeout trailing 17-20. Coming out of the timeout, ODU displayed a different type of energy that showed they were determined to end this match and not have it go to a fifth set. That energy, along with the support of an energetic crowd led to the Monarchs getting the set win 26-24, clinching the match win.


Alessia Sgherza led the team with 16 kills in the match. Afterwards, she said that they knew after last weekend’s performance, they would need to come into this match aggressive. She also knew that their chances of getting into the tournament wasn’t completely based on their performance, but the least they could do was come into Saturday’s game with the same aggressive mindset in order to close out with a win.


ODU did just that in Saturday’s rematch, as they went on to win the match in four sets again. This gave them a record of 13-13 on the season. While they did make a late push, it wasn’t enough to extend the season for the Monarchs. Not only did ODU have to win both weekend games, but they had to hope for losses from a couple other programs that didn’t go the way they were hoping for. Even though they won’t be able to compete in the tournament, the young volleyball program at Old Dominion is sure to keep improving on a yearly basis. In fact, they are setting up a bright future for volleyball at ODU.