It’s set three and the Yellowjackets are down 2–0 against crosstown rivals the Nazareth Golden Flyers, who came into the UR Women’s Volleyball (URVB) game with recent history on their side: since 2012, they have won all their games versus the ’Jackets.
Nazareth’s record prior to the game was 18–7; the Jackets stood at 18–9. And for a brief moment it looked like business as usual.
Except it wasn’t.
The team rallied late on its senior night, beating out Nazareth 3–2.
The Jackets stormed back into the game in the third set, hitting .462 (14 kills, two errors, 26 attacks). The team was led by senior Alexandra Goldman, sophomore Clara Martinez, and freshman Beth Ghyzel, all of whom had 11 kills. Senior Aimee Kohler led the Jackets with 49 assists, four aces, and 14 digs. Senior Nina Baek and sophomore Courtney Vidovich had 11 and 10 digs, respectively. The lead was held until the end.
There was a lot riding on this game, especially for seniors Kohler, Baek, Goldman, and Meghan Connor, all of whom were playing their last competitive match in the Palestra.
“It was disappointing that we started off slowly and [made] a lot of errors to find ourselves two games down,” coach Ladi Iya said after the game. “However, the team showed a great resiliency in adapting, changing our sense of urgency and coming back [into the game] to win in five.”
The individual set scores of the match were 21–25, 21–25, 25–14, 26–24, 15–13. Nazareth came out of the gate swinging, with senior Cady Messmer and sophomore Carmen Sapp recording 14 and 12 kills for the visitors, respectively. Senior Maureen Thayer led the Golden Flyers with 40 assists and 10 digs.
“The game started out a little rough, and the fact that we lost the first two sets shows that,” Connor said, adding, “[For] some reason we were not gelling very well on the court and it felt like there wasn’t that same sense of urgency to terminate the ball we know we can bring and have brought in many games this season.”
Everything that could go wrong, went wrong. The team needed to respond, and respond fast. And they did so in style—in their masterful third set.
In the same set, Nazareth—rocked by the thunderous rally of the ‘Jackets—hitting -.125 (6 kills, 10 errors, 32 attacks).
Set four was more evenly matched, with a total of six ties. UR, led by Kohler and Ghyzel, raced to a 18–13, but Nazareth clawed its way back into the game, timing 24–24. The winning play came from quick fire kills from Ghyzel and Alaraz Kocak.
“The season has been one of the best in recent years in terms of win-loss record,” Iya said, clearly pleased. She says the current goal of the team is to take and treat each game as it comes.
“Our current objective is to continually focus on process goals and small, but crucial, individual improvements that will help the team win.”
Connor echoed her coach’s words.
“As a team we have had our ups and downs, but we haven’t let our losses define how we play match to match or even set to set, and I think this last game really captured that,” she said.
The Yellowjackets’ next game is at Elmira College next Tuesday at 6 p.m.