It was homecoming weekend when the University of Rhode Island women’s volleyball team took the court against Fordham, as they prevailed in a straight-set victory on a night filled with celebration and reunions.
The Rams (12-9, 7-2) split their two road matches last weekend, first being blanked by La Salle 3-0 on Friday before dishing out their own shutout against Duquesne on Sunday.
URI entered the game in third place in the Atlantic 10 standings, while Fordham (10-13, 3-6) came in at sixth.
The Rams were able to get off to a quick start in the first set, taking it by a score of 25-13. Their momentum carried over into the second set, as it looked like URI was going to run away with it. They led late, but Fordham surged back to take advantage of some Rhode Island miscues. The Rams, however, held their opponents off long enough to pull out the 25-21 win and take the commanding 2-0 set lead.
Head coach Bob Schnenck, with his retirement looming, was relieved that his team was able to overcome their uneven play in the pivotal second set.
“It was more that we fell apart for four or five receptions errors and service errors,” Schnenck said. “I think it was our lack of performance and not their momentum.”
The Rams were able to cap off the match with a one-sided, 25-8 win in the clinching set. Senior Audrey Castro, who entered the weekend ranked fourth in the A-10 with 3.69 kills per set, had a team-high of nine kills along with fellow senior Layne Self. Junior Jessie Blaze and sophomore Olivia Budinich led all players with eight digs apiece. Schenck was impressed by the balanced attack his team displayed, and knows if they can maintain it then more success will follow.
“We had the best two practices in program history this week, and we brought that into tonight, more so in the third set,” Schneck said. “They’re capable of playing at another level.”
With only two games left in Keaney Gym this season, the game was a little more special for Schneck, as alumni and former players were present for what was his final Homecoming game as head coach.
“It means everything to me,” Schneck said. “To have my alums back makes it all worthwhile.”
Rhode Island hits the road for a pair of A-10 matches at Davidson and VCU next weekend, looking to gain momentum in the final stretch.