After a rough weekend at the Rochester Institute of Technology Invitational, the UR volleyball team returned with an aggressive home performance against RIT. The ‘Pack the Palestra” initiative brought casual fans out of their dorm caves to support the ‘Jackets. So long as the ‘Jackets continue to play with Tuesday’s intensity, there will be plenty of nectar to feed the famished fans. Although the UR volleyball team lost, its aggressive serves and digs were impressive throughout the past week’s matches.

UR finished 10th at the RIT Invitational with a 1-3 record. With losses and injuries, the road proved to be rocky (and I’m not talking about our mascot). On Friday afternoon, UR started the tournament against SUNY Cortland. Although Cortland delivered the ‘Jackets their first loss of the season at the Red Dragon Classic, the ‘Jackets were able to score 46 kills in that loss almost 10 above the team’s average. However, Friday night brought a whole new game, and a whole new challenge. Cortland was able to best UR in four games.

Sophomore libero Tayler Schweigel, who continues to be a consistent force, grunted out 15 digs against Cortland. Senior outside hitter and team captain Jess Rasmussen also made a statement with six digs, seven kills and two aces.

Shortly after the loss to Cortland, the ‘Jackets went up against Ithaca College. After four games of competitive action, the results were identical to the Cortland match-up. But just as the results were identical, so were the strengths. Rasmussen was able to bang out seven kills and 18 digs. Schweigel also gave a plausible performance with 21 digs and an ace.

After coming off of two losses, UR managed a winning performance in four games against SUNY Geneseo on Saturday. The win was a team effort with multiple noteworthy performances. Overall, the team scored 11 aces.

Once again, Schweigel and Rasmussen gave stellar performances. Schweigel added 23 digs to her two aces, while Rasmussen added 10 digs, six kills and one block assist to her four aces. The win was a much-needed morale booster following the two losses from the prior day.

Unfortunately, the momentum didn’t carry through to the second game that afternoon. In a back-and-forth see-saw battle, SUNY Potsdam bested the ‘Jackets in four games. Every game was competitive and often won by a fingernail or two. However, close only matters in horse shoes. Despite losing, the ‘Jackets’ performance was solid. Schweigel had 26 digs, while senior setter Kate Lewis also gave it her all with 16 digs and 20 assists.

The following day, UR volleyball coach Ladi Iya reflected on the ‘Jackets’ performance.
‘This weekend at the RIT tournament, I felt that we had an opportunity to grab a few wins which we were unable to capitalize on,” Iya said. ‘But I was happy to see that the team played competitively and was able to apply a lot of the techniques and skills we’ve been working on in practice.”

The competitive performances added some positive light to the rocky RIT invitational. However, it’s harder to turn a costly injury into something positive. Sophomore setter and co-captain Rachel Bender was unable to play in the loss to Postdam due to a knee injury. Bender is only one of two players to play in all 136 games of a season.

But Bender’s injury hasn’t stopped her from being a highly supportive team captain on the sidelines. Bender cheered her team on after every play during Tuesday night’s match up against the RIT Tigers.

Things were looking good when Schweigel served two consecutive aces in the opening minutes of the game. However, UR had difficulty maintaining momentum throughout the match, and RIT managed to pull out a victory in five games (25-20, 19-25, 12-25, 25-20, 12-15).

RIT has won seven of its last eight games and now stands at 7-6 overall. The ‘Jackets were up against a team on quite a run, but they didn’t go down without getting a couple of stings in. Sophomore outside hitter Allyson Blair had 13 kills, while freshman middle blocker Katie Kao and Rasmussen had nine kills apiece.

‘I think we outplayed the other team, but there were too many lapses where we’d give up four or five points. But we hit more aggressive, served tougher and got good digs. ” Iya said. ‘We weren’t able to terminate. For the next game, we need to work on our sets.”
UR will face Concordia University Chicago in the Keuka Classic this Saturday. They are 7-8.

Nathaniel is a member of the class of 2011.

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