The University of Rhode Island women’s volleyball team snuck by Virginia Commonwealth University in five sets and swept Davidson College this weekend after falling to Dayton and Saint Louis in their previous two matchups.
The Rams now sit at 15-7 overall with a 6-3 posting in Atlantic 10 Conference play. The last time Rhode Island eclipsed seven conference wins in one season was 2001 when the unit went 12-5 in the A-10.
“The star for sure was brilliant for Franki [Darnold],” Rhode Island head coach Bob Schneck said in an email. “Layne [Self] was okay, but the rest? [Audrey] Castro as our libero had more digs than anyone.Â “
Perhaps the deciding win of the season came on Friday against VCU, which Schneck referred to as “Maybe the most important A-10 match in the regular season.”
It was a match to remember for senior Catie Steffen, who recorded her 1,000th kill. She is one of only nine Rams to do so in the program’s history, according to GoRhody.com. The last person to get 1,000 career kills for the Rams was Kayla Wilson, who was cheering in the stands during the game. Steffen had 14 kills in the match, including the deciding point in the fifth set.
“What a match,” Schneck said.Â “We lost in three sets each time we have played them in the past. Â VCU is for real, truly one of the best teams in the conference.Â It was a huge win for Rhody. [There was] lots of character and fight from everyone. A great win, [with]Â lots of grit and communication from the girls.”
Darnold chipped in 14 kills and 10 digs for her ninth double-double on the season. Sophomore Callan Kinnan had 42 assists t go along with 10 digs, five kills and four block assists. Sophomore Castro had a career-high 15 digs, which she tied against Davidson the very next day.
In the sweep of Davidson, Darnold had 21 kills and eight digs. Kinnan had 34 assists. Their defeat of a struggling Davidson team put the Rams in a three-way tie for second place in the Atlantic 10.
“We were not going to lose against Davidson,” Schneck said. “They don’t have enough pieces to the puzzle yet.”
The Rams are heading up to Pittsburgh to play the defending A-10 Champion Duquesne Dukes, which will be another game filled with conference tournament implications. Despite well-rounded play in the past two games, Schneck said the Rams have not played their best volleyball of the season.
“Not yet,” he said. “Almost. Both the Davidson and the VCU matches were pretty good, but we are still getting better every day in practice and hopefully we will all have our personal bestÂ this FridayÂ evening in Pittsburgh.”