Hazel Brown spikes the ball. Photo by Grace DeSanti.
This past weekend the University of Rhode women’s volleyball team took two steps forward and one step backward, beating Davidson College and then losing to VCU.
After a long five-week stretch, URI collected their first win since early October, beating the Davidson Wildcats.
On Friday night, the Rams defeated the Wildcats at Keaney Gymnasium in straight sets, 3-0. They dominated all facets of the game, besting Davidson in digs, kills, blocks, assists, aces and hitting percentage.
After Davidson tied the set at 6-6 the Rams were led by a strong service game from Senior Hazel Brown, and were able to pull away. Going up 12-6, they kept their foot on the gas, eventually capturing the first set, 25-17. The Wildcats were unable to piece anything together, as Rhody held them without more than two consecutive points in the first set.
The second set saw URI take a commanding 20-9 lead, fueled by strong offensive showing from freshman Claire Wagner and redshirt junior Natale Zanellato. Davidson showed some fight, as they brought the match back to an eight point margin. The differential was too much, however, as a Claire Chaplinsky kill gave Rhody the second set, 25-17.
With Davidson trailing by two points in the third set 18-15, Head Coach Steve Santonastaso called a timeout. Coming out of the timeout URI ended the third set at 25-15, by winning seven straight points on the back of another strong showing at the service line from Brown. This three set to nothing victory over Davidson put Rhode Island at 7-16 overall, and 2-9 during Atlantic 10 play.
Rhody sophomore Ella Ratzloff led both teams in digs, 15. Wagner paced the Rams with 10 kills and added six digs. Mariah Paulette filled the stat sheet with nine kills, two blocks and two digs.
Santonastaso had nothing but praise for his team following Friday’s winning performance.
“Our team had a really unified team effort,” Santonastaso said. “Everybody did their job really well. We worked hard for that win and all of our opportunities, and on Friday we had one of our best of the whole season. It was pretty great.”
The match on Sunday was a totally different story, as Rhode Island was defeated by the Rams of Virginia Commonwealth University in straight sets, 25-16, 25-19, 25-14. The frontrunners for the A-10 regular season championship, VCU was the better team from start to finish. Rhode Island never led by more than one point at any point throughout the match.
VCU used a strong offensive attack to defeat Rhody as they were able to convert 46 kills on 90 total attacks. With the victory, VCU moved to 12-0 during conference play and 21-5 overall, while URI fell to 2-10 in the A-10 and 7-17 overall, and was eliminated from postseason contention.
After the match, Santanastaso focused on the importance of finishing the season strong.
“They’re a good team,” Santanastaso said. “They’re one of the favorites to win the conference championship, but we can be better on our side and we have to keep working at it.”
This being the last home match of the year, Brown and fellow senior Jenna McGuire were honored before it started, for their years of hard work and dedication.
Rhode Island concludes their season with a trip to Geroge Mason on Friday, Nov. 15 and then a visit to northern Virginia to play George Washington the next day.