The women’s volleyball team got their first taste of University Athletic Association conference competition last weekend at the UAA round robin tournament at Washington University in St. Louis and came away with a win and two losses, moving their overall record to 17-6.
The Yellowjackets opened the tournament with a 3-0 loss to New York University on Friday and then split their matches on Saturday, losing to Washington, 3-1, and winning their final match against Case Western Reserve University, 3-1.
The round robin determines the conference seedings for the UAA Championships, which will be held at NYU in early November.
UR played well against a strong conference field, managing to steal a game from Washington – the second-ranked team in the nation.
“I think as a whole we played really well,” freshman outside hitter Susan Johnson said. “Taking a game from Washington University, which is ranked second in the nation, was a real accomplishment for us.”
Junior co-captain and setter Liz Loveless agreed.
“We won the game we needed against Case Western,” she said. “Although 1-2 for the weekend doesn’t sound that great, this is probably the best we’ve played at the UAA tournament since I’ve been here.”
The score of the Case Western match was 30-16, 21-30, 30-19, 30-23. Senior outside hitter Stephanie Bristol along with junior co-captain and middle back Kristin Vogt were on fire at the net with 16 kills each.
Freshman setter Samantha Carr had 19 digs, Johnson finished with 17 digs and Loveless added 47 assists and 16 digs.
Johnson felt that the close-fought victory was the perfect ending to the tournament.
“It was a really good win against Case Western and was a really positive way to end the weekend.”
Earlier on Saturday, the Yellowjackets lost to host Washington, 19-30, 18-30, 30-28, 18-30. Though they lost the match, winning the game against Washington may have been the highlight of the weekend.
“We took a game from Washington University, something we haven’t done since I’ve been at this school,” Loveless said. “A lot of other teams were really impressed with that.”
Against the Bears, Johnson finished with 16 kills, 11 digs and five aces. Loveless held the offense together with 30 assists and Vogt pitched in with 10 kills and three blocks. Freshman outside hitter Andrea Wagonseller had nine digs.
“It felt good to take a game from Washington,” Wagonseller said. “I think it showed them that they can’t let up against us.”
On Friday, UR lost a 30-25, 30-17, 30-19 decision to NYU, another nationally ranked top-10 team. The Yellowjackets had lost to the Violets earlier this season in the championship game of the SUNY Oneonta Tournament.
Against NYU, Johnson finished with 11 kills and 12 digs and Wagonseller had 10 digs. Vogt added four kills and Loveless tallied 16 assists.
Despite the weekend’s losses, Johnson felt that the matches, including the loss against NYU, were a positive indication of UR’s ability.
“We played really well all weekend and although we were not able to beat teams like NYU and Washington University, it gave us something to work toward as both of these teams are ranked in the top ten in the nation.”
Vogt also felt that the high quality of the competition last weekend can only make UR better.
“The best way to become a better volleyball team is to play against teams that make you work harder and think faster.”
Head Coach Linda Downey emphasized that the team still has improvements to make.
“We aren’t quite there yet,” she said. “We’re working our way up. To take a game against Washington and beat Case Western is a good start.”
The Yellowjackets hope to take what they learned over the weekend into the next UAA round robin. The second conference tournament will be held at the Palestra on Oct. 18 and 19.
UR hopes that homecourt advantage will translate to tournament wins.
“I think we can take our performance this weekend and take a positive attitude into the round robin which will be held here,” Johnson said. “It will be a great advantage to be playing in the Palestra because we have played great at home this year.”
The team has a 10-day break before playing at SUNY Geneseo on Oct. 15 and will continue to work on improving the basics of the game.
“We’ve got some rebuilding to do, but the girls are excited,” Downey said.
The Yellowjackets defeated St. John Fisher College, Medaille College and Buffalo State University the week before the tournament – all by a score of 3-0.
UR looks forward to more conference play and the chance for a win against Geneseo.
“As a whole, I think our season is really coming along and we are improving with every game we play,” Johnson said. “We have the next 10 days off and this will really give us a chance to work on some things so that we can come back strong against Geneseo next Wednesday.”
Taylor can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.