Volleyball falls to Dayton in regular season finale

Saint Louis University women’s volleyball fell three sets to one to Dayton at home on Saturday, Nov. 14. The loss in the regular season finale means SLU will finish with a 21-9 overall record and a 10-4 A-10 record, good for the second seed in the A-10 conference tournament. SLU finished behind Dayton, which ran the conference table to finish 14-0 and 23-5 overall. SLU and Rhode Island were competing for the second seed, which comes with a first-round bye, but Rhode Island’s Nov. 13 loss left them with a 9-5 A-10 record, behind SLU.

The Billikens took on Dayton hoping to avenge an away loss earlier in the season, which the Billikens had also lost three sets to one. SLU fought Dayton close in the first set behind junior outside hitter Danielle Rygelski’s seven kills, but ultimately fell 25-22. The Billikens stormed back in the second set to top Dayton 25-19, behind a team hitting percentage of .519.

After the break, sophomore outside hitter Nenye Okoro recorded six kills, but the Billikens fell in another close set, 25-23. Dayton then clinched the match with a 25-17 fourth set win, despite Rygelski’s five kills on fourteen attempts without an error, for a .357 attack percentage.

Despite the loss, there were several standout Billiken performances. Okoro and Rygelski both recorded double-doubles, as Okoro tallied 14 kills and 18 digs, while Rygelski scored 19 kills and 10 digs. The match also saw senior middle blocker Megan Gilbert put up 10 kills on 16 attacks with only two errors, for an efficient .500 attack percentage. Senior setter Meredith Boe put up 43 assists in the match.

The match also marked this season’s senior night for the Billikens. Gilbert, Boe and outside hitter Nicole Sniffen were all honored prior to the match. Gilbert and Boe were standouts for SLU in their four years of eligibility. Gilbert is among the top attackers in SLU volleyball history, while Boe is one of SLU’s all-time assist leaders.

As some of SLU’s most decorated players wind down their collegiate careers, a new crop of talent prepares to craft their own story at Chaifetz Arena. Head coach Kent Miller confirmed the signings of defensive specialist Katelyn Bright of Wildwood, Missouri, outside hitter Morgan Goodman of Cedar Hill, Missouri, and middle blocker Lauren Mershon of Minnetonka, Minnesota. All have won various volleyball honors for their club and high school teams and will make up a part of SLU’s next generation of volleyball talent.

Prior to their arrivals, however, SLU will compete in the 2015 A-10 conference tournament. Dayton will face off against the winner of the George Washington vs. VCU match, with George Washington as the fourth seed and VCU as the fifth seed. Third seed Rhode Island will play against sixth seed Duquesne, with the winner of that match going against SLU. While Dayton will be favorites for the tournament, SLU also boasts a strong team and will expect to compete to win the title, which comes with an automatic place in the NCAA tournament.

Last year, the Billikens faced Duquesne in the first round of the A-10 tournament and won 3-1.  They are 4-0 against the Dukes in the past two years.  Although they did not face VCU in the conference tournament last year, they do pose a greater challenge for SLU.  The Rams have a 3-0 lead over the Billikens in the past two years they have played.