The River Campus played host to an electrifying volleyball tournament this weekend, as Roberts Wesleyan College, Medaille College, and SUNY Brockport joined the Yellowjackets in the UR Invitational.
Friday night, UR lost 0-3 to Roberts Wesleyan, in a match where mistakes hindered the Yellowjackets from reaching the high-quality play of which they’re capable.
“We clearly had a few home season opener jitters during the first match on Friday, but it’s always nice to play at home,” head coach Ladi Iya said. “The fans create a great atmosphere and there is something to be said for home court advantage”
Despite those jitters, the team had a few standout players in sophomore outside hitter Kelly Mulrey, who had a double-double with 10 kills and 17 digs and sophomore libero Lauren Bujnicki who had 13 digs.
The Yellowjackets quickly bounced back from that loss on Saturday, as they upended both Medaille and Brockport 3-0. The score line against Medaille doesn’t tell the whole story though, as each game was decided by narrow two point margins.
“Winning the Medaille match was a real testament to the team’s composure and desire to win, coach Iya said. “Meghan Neff really changed the momentum in our favour in the beginning of the first set when we were down 22-24 and she served four in a row to help us win us the set.”
The intensity on the court was reflected throughout the Alexander Palestra, as a few referee calls had coaches and fans of both teams visibly questioning the decision. Regardless, the Mavericks of Medaille just couldn’t handle UR’s Neff and freshman setter Jackie Fluegel, who had three aces and 15 assists, respectively. Medaille would eventually finish fourth in the invitational, dropping all three matches.
The Yellowjackets had a much easier time with the Brockport Golden Eagles, cruising to victory in each game by ten, eight and five points. Junior outside hitter Casey Larsen led the team, earning a double-double with 11 kills and 14 digs, as freshman defensive specialist Paige Idziur also impressed with three service aces. UR dominated the game with immaculate ball control and well-trained technical skills.
Moreover, mistakes in communication plagued Brockport, as their mishaps ranged from two players running into each other going for the same ball, to strikes landing in the middle of their team court with no one attempting to hit it. The Yellowjackets will face the Golden Eagles three additional times this season, but don’t be so quick to write those matches off as easy wins. “We had a tough time stopping their middles, so we’ll have to work on that,” Iya said. “We also have to continue to be very aggressive offensively.”
Brockport’s performance resulted in a third place finish in the invitational, winning one of three matches. In the end, the Yellowjackets only loss in the invitational against Roberts Wesleyan was redeemed as Roberts Wesleyan went undefeated, eventually winning the tournament.
UR’s own Mulrey and Larsen were voted by the coaches onto the All-Invitational Team, not an honor to be shrugged off.
UR is now 5-3 on the season after beating SUNY Geneseo on Tuesday. They will head into the Rochester Institute of Technology Tournament for a three game tournament over the weekend with matches scheduled against SUNY Potsdam, Nazareth College and SUNY Brockport.
Russell is a member of the class of 2014.