The University of Rhode Island women’s volleyball team improved its overall season record to 17-8 over the weekend, defeating Fordham University in a 3-0 sweep.
The Rams sit at fourth place in the Atlantic 10 Conference with an 8-4 record, a half-game ahead of Virginia Commonwealth University in the standings.
“I thought they were most improved from the first time we played them,” University of Rhode Island head coach Bob Schneck said. “They played a different system, they did a good job and I think it was a great comeback for them.”
The Rams set the tone in the first set with a 25-15 victory, forcing multiple errors from the opposing side and taking advantage of the lead it afforded them.
It was the next set that saw the team face some contention for the win. Fordham came back with great strength, forced some errors on the URI side and reached a lead of 8-2, which was eventually extended to 13-3 at its largest.
Schneck said about this difficult point in the match that “they deserved to be where they were. We didn’t start playing well until the middle of that game.”
From being down 10 points, the Rams were able to pull the set back to a score of 25-25, after which Franki Darnold would execute both kills to secure a comeback victory in the closest set of the match, 27-25.
The final set saw the teams continue a close contest that included eight ties and three lead changes, but in the middle, URI began to pull away slightly. Darnold gave a performance of eight kills in this set alone (out of the 17 she had for the entire match,) and contributed to the momentum that would help the team go on to take the set 25-22.
“I think that we had a lot of openings for me to do well,” Darnold said. “Our middles were producing really well and our other hitters too, so it gave me a shot to have one blocker instead of two. The way we’ve been practicing is making us all really confident, we’re connecting together, there’s really good chemistry.”
Freshman Marie Gillcrist was named Atlantic 10 Defensive Player of the Week for her efforts against Fordham. Gillcrist produced a match-high six blocks and contributed six kills. She is second on the squad with 63 blocks this year despite only participating in two-thirds of all sets.
Though he wanted 30 percent of his offense to come from the middle, Schneck said the team’s passes or digs weren’t executed well enough to get the ball up front where he would have liked.
“We can do a little bit better with that,” Schneck said. “But this was a good contest, we thought this might have been a little easier than what it was, but it’s good to be challenged at this time in the season, and we had a good crowd.”
The volleyball team closes out the season next weekend with two home matches. The first will be against George Mason University at 7 p.m. on Friday, while Senior Day will feature George Washington University at 1 p.m. on Sunday.