Courtesy of Rochester Athletic Communications













Women’s volleyball ended it’s season at the UAA Finals in Waltham, Mass. this past weekend, competing in a trio of matches on Friday, Nov. 8 and Saturday, Nov. 9.

The ‘Jackets came into the event with an 8-25 record on the season, including losing their eight previous matches.  Despite the recent struggles, UR competed well throughout the weekend, winning at least one set in each of their three contests.

To begin the tournament, the ‘Jackets faced off against the University of Chicago Maroons. Chicago would jump out quickly to a two set lead, winning the first 25-19 and the second 25-14. With their backs squarely against the wall, UR rallied to narrowly take the third set 25-23.  The momentum seemed to have shifted in Rochester’s favor, but Chicago quickly squashed any hopes of a comeback, cruising to a 25-13 win in the fourth set.

Leading Rochester was sophomore Emma Gira, who had 12 kills and one service ace. Fellow sophomore Jennie Ford had seven kills, as did senior captain Savannah Benton, who also recorded two digs, two service aces, and blocks of two attacks.

Later in the day, the ‘Jackets were back on court to take on the fourth-seeded Violets from New York University.  The two teams previously met on Oct. 19 in St. Louis, Mo. in a tight four set battle.  On that day, NYU dropped the first set before reeling off three straight sets to win.

On this occasion, almost nothing separated the two teams, who fought hard for five back-and-forth sets.  NYU barely edged the ‘Jackets in the first set, grabbing it 25-23.  UR bounced back, though, evening the match with a 25-21 win in set two.  Rochester failed to capitalize on their momentum, however, and NYU took the third set comfortably 25-16.  The Violets struggled to put away the pesky YellowJackets in set four, eventually dropping it 25-17.

With the match knotted at two sets each, the result came down to the decisive fifth set, which is only played to 15 points.  UR rushed to an 8-2 lead, and looked to be well on  their way to an upset win.  Unfortunately for the squad, this lead quickly disappeared, as NYU stormed back to win 15-13.
As tough as the loss was for Rochester, there was no time to commiserate, as the match for seventh place in the conference still loomed.

On Saturday, the ‘Jackets met Brandeis University, the host team of the event, in their final match of the season.  It was a tall task for UR to snap their ten-match losing streak and wrap up the season with a win, as Brandeis had previously dominated Rochester in their Oct. 6 meeting this year.
Any mental edge the Judges may have had on the ‘Jackets coming to the match was quickly eliminated, as the determined UR team raced to a two set lead, winning easily 25-14 and 25-12.  Brandeis would fight back, however, and took sets three and four, refusing to go down without a fight in front of their home fans.

In the fifth set, the YellowJackets simply refused to lose, leaving everything they had on the court, coming away with a 15-11 victory.

Benton, who was competing in her final college match, ended her career on a high note, racking up a team-high 11 kills.

As a team, the ‘Jackets put together their best hitting percentage in over a month.  Their mark of .174 was the team’s highest since their Oct. 5th match against Chicago.

The ‘Jackets win against Brandeis was not the only positive news to end the season, as junior Xiaoyi Li, who led the team with 944 assists on the season, was named to the All-UAA team.
Overall, while the season certainly had its fair share of tough losses, the resiliency the team displayed in the UAA finals is nothing short of impressive.

Rochester ends the season with a 9-27 record, with five of their wins coming at home.  Neutral site matches proved to be the team’s biggest downfall, as the team went 2-20 in these contests.
Looking ahead to 2014, there is plenty of reason for optimism.  UR is only slated to lose two seniors to graduation, and the extra year of experience that this year’s underclassmen will have should prove to be invaluable.

Shapiro is a member of the class of 2016.

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