Lady Monarchs Win One of Three in Quest for the Crown Tournament

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ODU Athletics

Freshman Gerren Tomlin and redshirt junior Hailey Duncan go up to block the ND hit.

Art Neal , Associate Sports Editor

 

Last weekend was an eventful one for Old Dominion football, but volleyball took the spotlight this weekend as they hosted the Quest for the Crown tournament. The event saw East Carolina, Notre Dame, and the Naval Academy women’s volleyball programs in the Norfolk area. Match-play opened Thursday at 6:30 p.m. as the Lady Monarchs took on the Midshipmen of the Navy Academy. ODU came into this match 2-4, having made a trip to Virginia Tech and taken two out of three matches in Blacksburg. Navy also entered this match with a record of 2-4. 

ODU gained an early lead in their campaign against the Midshipmen when they took the first-set win by a score of 25-22. This win was thanks to multiple kills from sophomore right-side hitter Myah Conway and Raleigh native freshman Bailey Burgess. The ODU defense was headed by sophomore libero Jamie Bissmeyer, who tallied a handful of digs as well as junior outside hitter Tessa Mati, who had a balanced performance in which she added multiple blocks, digs, and kills in the set. 

The second set offered an opportunity for redemption for the Midshipmen as they gained a large advantage of seven points during the middle portion of the set, before giving way to a late comeback from the Lady Monarchs. This comeback tied the set at 24, but sadly it was to no avail, and late miscues led to ODU falling 26-24 in the second set. 

Sophomore Ashley Peroe floats the ball over the net while the ND defenders try to block the attempt. (ODU Athletics)

The third set was plagued with misfortune as the Lady Monarchs suffered from miscues late in the set. Navy jumped out to a lead midway through the set, forcing an ODU timeout with the score 14-9 in Navy’s favor. The Midshipmen’s defense could not hold the Lady Monarchs off as they came roaring back with a couple of clutch points scored by tall lefty Conway. This push gave ODU a two-point advantage of 21-19, but the momentum shifted in favor of Navy and they took the set 27-25. 

Now trailing two sets to one, the Lady Monarchs figured it was time to turn up the heat. They did just that as they took a decisive win in set 4 with a score of 25-16. Their attack was spearheaded by Conway and two late kills by redshirt junior middle blocker Hailey Duncan. This set also featured great defense from Bissmeyer and redshirt sophomore Anna Burkhardt, who both tallied a handful of digs. Again, the great all-around play was displayed by Italian native Mati. 

With the decisive win in the fourth set, ODU forced a winner-take-all in the final set. The Lady Monarch push opened strong as sophomore setter Teresa Atliano served up an ace to open the set. The fifth came as a nail-biter for Monarch fans as the score remained tight throughout with no clear advantage until late. The odds were in favor of Old Dominion as the Midshipmen were plagued with a service error and a return miscue, which lead to their defeat. ODU took the set 16-14 and the match by a score of three sets to two sets. 

ODU’s second match of the weekend was against the Irish of Notre Dame, who were coming off a fifth-set win against East Carolina the previous afternoon. This match was planned to start at 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 9, but was delayed due to the prior match running long and eventually starting around 8 p.m.

The Lady Monarchs emerged strong as they stole the first set 25-14 from the Irish. ODU was on fire as they dominated the set, closing the match on a vicious block of an attempted Notre Dame kill. 

The Lady Monarchs carried the momentum into the second set but ultimately fell to ND 25-16. ODU was within striking range, trailing 17-13, before suffering some miscues and communication issues that contributed to their loss. 

Now tied at one set apiece, the third set was eventful since each team got a sizable interlude as the officiating staff tried to figure out what the score actually was. At the end of the interlude, the Sun Belt official reasoned that the score should have been 10-9 in favor of ODU. Despite this piece of fortune, the Lady Monarchs could not hold this lead as they fell 25-20 to the Irish in the third set. 

Trailing in a situation similar to the Navy match, the Lady Monarchs showed out again and took the fourth set 25-20, forcing a winner-take-all fifth set. ODU led all the way as they continued the attack against the ND defense with a sundry of Monarchs tallying multiple kills, including Conway solidifying her ballot for the all-tournament team. 

In the fifth set, the Lady Monarchs put up a good fight but were not able to capitalize and fell 15-12. Errors in communication continued to plague the Monarchs.

Sophomore Teresa Atilano goes up for the serve. Taken from ODU road trip in Blacksburg. (ODU Athletics)

“I just think we keep going,” stated head coach Chao. “We keep pushing on that, keep playing at this level, and make some small improvements here and there. I think just some of the details that we keep trying to get better at in practice, still need to get better there.”

The third and final match of the weekend took place on Saturday, Sept. 9 at 3 p.m. The Lady Monarchs squared up against the East Carolina Pirates, the only team they had yet to play. This match was a struggle for the Lady Monarchs. They trailed often and dropped three sets to the Pirates to close the weekend off. 

“Playing from behind a lot, our serve and pass game didn’t hold up long enough,” Chao commented when asked about the loss. They got a cluster of points just from their serves and pass game. That was really hard to manage, and then when we did get some balls up, we weren’t really doing good things in the middle of the rally. So you’re going to lose in straight sets if you can’t control those two aspects.”

Despite a weekend finish that did not go as planned, a bright moment was the selection of Pennsylvania native Myah Conway to the All-Tournament team. The sophomore right-side hitter tallied 40 kills (3.08 per set) as well as 12 digs and 11 blocks. Conway started all three matches and .273 through 13 sets played. 

The Lady Monarchs will aim to bounce back against Norfolk State on Tuesday, Sept. 13 at 6 p.m. on the NSU campus. They will make a trip to Richmond to play more regional competition against UNC-Chapel Hill this coming Friday at 10 a.m. in the VCU Invitational. Looking ahead to conference play, the Lady Monarchs begin their Sun Belt run with matches against Marshall at home on Sept. 22 and 23.