Volleyball tops Rhode Island in semis, falls to Dayton 3-0 in A-10 final

SLU women’s volleyball defeated the University of Rhode Island 3-0 before being swept 3-0 by Dayton in the A-10 Conference Championship. The loss marks the end of the 2015 Billiken volleyball season, which SLU finished in second place, with an overall record of 22-10 and a conference record of 10-4. Dayton finished first, winning the conference tournament and going a perfect 14-0 in the tournament.

SLU entered the tournament with a first round bye, earned by finishing in second place in the A-10 behind Dayton during the regular season. Second-seeded SLU faced off against third-seeded Rhode Island, who won their quarterfinal match against sixth-seed Duquesne.

SLU’s semifinal match proved to be a mismatch as the Billikens swept Rhode Island, 3-0. The first set highlighted the difference between the two teams, as the Billikens raced out to a sizable advantage and eventually won, 25-10.

Junior outside hitter Danielle Rygelski, who has been SLU’s strongest offensive player this season, led the Billikens in the set with six kills.

The second set was closer, at 25-18, but SLU utilized a 12-3 run to finish off the set after Rhode Island grabbed a 15-13 lead. Rygelski once again powered the Billikens to a set victory, as SLU won the third set 25-17 to complete the sweep. Rygelski provided a .583 attack percentage in the set as well as eight kills.

The victory meant that SLU would face Dayton to determine the A-10 tournament champion, as well as which team would represent the conference in the NCAA tournament. Dayton beat SLU during both matches in the regular season by a score of three sets to one, although SLU had played Dayton very close, even in the sets they had lost.

Dayton, who beat George Washington three sets to two to reach the final, won the first set, 25-19. SLU lost the set despite Rygelski recording two service aces and sophomore outside hitter Nenye Okoro hitting .333 and registering five kills. The second set also went to Dayton, 25-23, despite an efficient attacking performance from junior middle blocker Taylor Paulson, who recorded five kills on seven attempts, for a .714 attack percentage. Dayton then finished the sweep with a 25-20 third set victory, despite another two aces from Rygelski.

The end of the season brought about some impressive individual achievements for the Billikens. Senior setter Meredith Boe finished her career second all-time with 3714 assists, while Paulson ended her season with a .354 attack percentage — the third highest single-season total in SLU’s history.

Meanwhile, Rygelski, who has been a standout performer all season, finished with 4.24 kills per set—the 10th highest single-season total at SLU. Meanwhile, the 492 kills she amassed in the Fall 2015 season rank as the 11th highest all-time at SLU. Rygelski’s 59 aces also proved to be the 11th highest single-season total ever recorded for a Billiken.