Courtesy of UR Athletics

Playing at the Palestra to a crowd decked out almost entirely in yellow and blue, the women’s volleyball team managed to capitalize on their home court advantage by winning two of four matches at the second of two University Athletic Association round robin weekends.

While a 2-2 record on the weekend doesn’t sound all that impressive, it’s worth noting that this tournament was one of the most competitive and widely talked-about tournaments in the country this year.

As a league known for submitting multiple volleyball powerhouses on a yearly basis, the UAA this year boasts two of the top three teams in the nation — No. 2 Washington University in St. Louis and No. 3 Emory University — both of which made long road trips to UR for the two-day tournament that began on Saturday, Oct. 15. University of Chicago, No. 16, was also a top contender in the mix.

The Yellowjackets’ first win came against Carnegie Mellon, as the home team defeated the Tartans, 25-17, 25-23, 25-23 in a three-game sweep. Junior Kelly Mulrey paced UR with a double-double, compiling 11 kills and 10 digs. The trio of junior Megan Neff, sophomore Savannah Benton and senior Casey Larsen played a vital role in the victory as well, as each contributed over seven kills to headline a strong team effort. Freshman Xiaoyi Li recorded 27 assists to lead UR in that category, while senior Katie Kao denied the Tartans’ front women with five blocks on the game.

The ’Jackets were on the other end of a sweep later that day, as they fell to the New York University Violets, 26-24, 25-15, 25-20. Larsen took control of the home team’s offense in this match, as she led the team with nine kills. Benton chipped in eight, while junior Lauren Bujnicki contributed 20 digs. Kao once again was UR’s defensive force with three blocks.

The women earned another split on day two of the tournament. After a rather demoralizing defeat to the Washington University in St. Louis Bears (25-12, 25-10, 25-8), the yellow and blue bounced back with a 3-0 sweep of Brandeis University (25-16, 25-15, 25-19). Junior Meghan Neff had a standout performance, as she headlined the UR offensive effort with nine kills and two blocks. Mulrey added six kills and 14 digs, while Li had a team-leading 21 assists.

Combined with a disappointing 0-3 performance at the first of the two UAA round robin weekends, the Yellowjackets finished 2-5 and ended in a three-way tie with New York University and Carnegie Mellon University for fifth place in round robin play. These results will help determine the seed pairings for the UAA Championships, which will be held at New York University beginning Friday, Nov. 4.

The ’Jackets (15-14) will host SUNY Brockport in the opening round of the New York Regional Challenge on Friday, Oct. 28.

Bernstein is a member of the class of 2014.

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