The University of Rhode Island women’s volleyball team was dealt two close losses at the hands of Dayton and Saint Louis this weekend as they now find themselves fifth in the Atlantic 10 Conference standings.
“Our stars needed to shine more brightly in order for us to do better,” Rhode Island head coach Bob Schneck said in an email. “Typically on most teams there are players who stand out, players who can get you more kills than others. If you look at our statistics sheets from the weekend, you will notice our stars were a little dim.Â Our better players must accept the challenge and be able to play their personal best against the better teams in the conference.”
Rhode Island had a back-and-forth matchup against Saint Louis on Friday. The teams split the first two sets, but Saint Louis went on a tear to close out the game. The Billikens won the third set, 25-15, and sealed the match win in the fourth set, 25-19.
The Rams were down 20-18 late in the first set against Dayton when the Flyers closed out the game on a 5-1 run. The second set was also close, despite a struggling Rams offense. The score was 21-18 before Dayton went on a game-winning run. In the third and final set, the Rams gave up a 10-2 run to fall 25-17.
The URI offense only managed a .147 hitting percentage against Saint Louis and a .038 hitting percentage against Dayton. Dayton made the Rams earn every point, recording 43 digs in three sets. Although a couple of players were injured, Rhode Island’s problems on offense have yet to be solved. Junior Franki Darnold credited Dayton for exploiting the Rams weaknesses throughout the game.
“We definitely struggled,” Darnold said. “They had a good eye on where we had weaknesses, so that had something to do with it.” Darnold also mentioned that Dayton’s coach said in an interview that “It was the best defense he has seen his team play all year.”
After starting the season 8-0, the Rams are 5-7 their last 12 games. Clinching a bye week in the Atlantic 10 Tournament might be farther out of reach after the winless weekend, but Darnold does not think it is impossible just yet.
“A lot can still happen,” Darnold said. “The first and second-place teams are tied. Anyone can beat a team and make their records worse [than ours]. A lot would have to go right for us.”
Senior Catie Steffen had 10 kills against Dayton and she was the only player for Rhode Island with more than six kills. With 10 more kills, she will be the tenth Ram ever to record 1,000 in her career. She is currently eleventh in career kills in school history.
The Rams are gearing up for home games against VCU on Friday night and Davidson on Saturday night as they look to rebound with the conference tournament in sight. Rhode Island will play five of its final seven matchups in Kingston at the Frank W. Keaney Gymnasium.
“I think that a lot of it has to do with getting better and working harder on our part,” Darnold said. “We’ve been putting in a lot of hours at the gym and they’re [Saint Louis and Dayton] definitely teams that we can hang in with.”