The University of Rhode Island women’s volleyball team hosted two Atlantic 10 opponents this weekend, splitting the matches with a loss to the University of Dayton on Friday and a win against Saint Louis University Saturday night.
There was a big-match feel permeating throughout Keaney Gymnasium when conference juggernaut Dayton (18-1, 5-0) came into town hoping to extend their reign of dominance for this season. Rhode Island (10-8, 5-1) on the other hand, was also streaking, having won five in a row, four via sweep and were looking for a marquee victory on their home court. The Rams started the night off on the right track, winning the first set 25-19 on the strength of a consistent offensive attack that totaled 19 kills to Dayton’s nine. Senior Audrey Castro led the way with six kills and an overall solid performance on the night, totaling 16 kills and eight digs.
URI, however, could not sustain their momentum, and the switch flipped over on Dayton’s side of the net. The Flyers’ defense ignited after a slow start, and held the Rams to a hitting percentage of just .057. They tied the match after winning the second set 25-17, and proceeded to show why they are the number one team in the A-10 by winning the next two sets 25-19 and 25-21 for the road victory.
The momentum shift was a disappointment to head coach Bob Schneck, but not a surprise as he knows the caliber of his opponent.
“I think we played a good first match, but if you look at the stats [in] the second and third we went to sleep,” Schneck said. “That’s the best team in the conference, and I think we’re the only team that can beat them, but it’s going to take a great performance to do so.”
The Flyers remained undefeated in the conference, with only a loss to Loyola Marymount preventing them from being perfect on the year.
URI fell to 9-8, but quickly turned their attention to Saturday night with the showdown against Saint Louis. The Rams captured the first set 25-21, but fell again in the second, losing 25-17. Danielle Rygelski refused to let the Rams find their groove, keeping the Billikens in the game with a whopping 36 kills on the night, the most by any A-10 player this season.
The Rams were able to battle back and take in the third set 25-22, before winning the match with a clinching 26-24 victory in the next set.
Schneck was pleased by the grit of this team in the weekend series, but knows they have work to do if they want to be crowned conference champions in his final year of coaching.
“We hung in there at tight times when the score was close, but also at times looked like we were out of energy which is where we had the problem keeping things together,” Schneck said.
Schneck was satisfied overall with his team, and could not help but be impressed by one of the opposing players.
“All in all it’s a good team, Number 4 (Rygelski) is a wrecking ball in the front, back and even on the serve,” Schneck said.
Junior Sam Roberts finished with nine kills. Castro led the offense, again with 16 kills and fellow senior Callan Kinnan tallied 44 assists.
The Rams hit the road this weekend for another pair of A-10 games in La Salle University (8-12, 0-5) on Friday night and then at Duquesne University (14-6, 4-1) on Saturday.