Volleyball’s inconsistent form continues

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Saint Louis University Women’s Volleyball could not improve their losing record for the season, moving to 5-10 following the Billiken Invitational and a match against Western Illinois. The Billiken Invitational, an annual tournament hosted by the women’s volleyball team, saw Murray State, Omaha, and Illinois visit Chaifetz Pavilion.

SLU’s first match came against Murray State, where they lost a tightly contested match 3 sets to 2. Murray State won a close first set that foreshadowed the eventual result of the match, winning 26-24 despite senior outside hitter Danielle Rygelski’s 5 kills. Murray State then drew to within one set of winning the entire match when they took the second set, 25-19, despite Rygelski once again pacing the attack with 5 kills. SLU swiftly enacted revenge in the third set, roaring out to a quick lead and never looking back behind Rygelski’s 8 kills and senior middle blocker Maryann Ejele’s 4 kills on 6 attempts. SLU then dominated Murray State in the fourth set, with a 25-13 win, with a .486 hitting percentage. However, SLU’s dominance did not last, as the fifth set saw Murray State negate an early SLU lead with a .500 hitting percentage.

The match saw Rygelski tally 26 kills, tied for the team’s second-highest single match performance. Her 15 digs to go along with the kills meant that she earned her sixth double-double of the season. Ejele also registered a career-high 11 kills, to go along with 4 blocks and a .625 hitting percentage for an extremely efficient performance. Senior setter Ashley Gagen came off the bench as SLU’s setter to record a career-best 38 assists.

Next up for the Billikens was Omaha, and SLU got back to winning ways with a 3-0 sweep of the team. Rygelski registered 5 kills and junior libero Mackenzie Long tallied 8 digs as SLU went on the capture the first set 25- 22. Things got easier for the Billikens in the second set, as senior middle blocker Taylor Paulson managed five kills on five swings on the way to a team .667 hitting percentage and a 25-14 set win. Paulson then recorded 3 kills off of 5 attempts, with no errors, in the third set, to lead SLU to a 25-16 set victory.

Long led all players with 17 digs and 4 aces against Omaha, while Rygelski was the only player to record double-digit kills, as she had 12. Paulson was SLU’s most efficient attacker, with 8 kills on 13 attempts and only 2 errors, for a magnificent .462 attacking percentage. SLU also managed a season best 9 aces in the match. For the final match of the Billiken Invitational, SLU faced off against Illinois. The first set of the match was close, but eventually went Illinois’ way as the Billikens lost, 25-22. Illinois then masterfully corralled SLU in the second set, winning 25-14. Illinois then completed the sweep in the third set with a 25-21 victory. SLU’s top performers in the match against Illinois included Rygelski, who led all hitters with 22 kills in the match. Long also had another strong game with 11 digs and 11 assists for her first career double-double.

SLU finished their nonconference schedule at 5-10 with a midweek 3-1 victory over Western Illinois. Te first set saw Rygelski record 8 kills to lead SLU to a 25-19. The second set saw a strong defense from the Billikens, who held Western Illinois to a .031 attack percentage and won the set 25-14. Western Illinois managed to take the third set 25-20, but SLU sealed their victory with a back-and-forth 31-29 fourth set victory.

Next up for the Billikens will be a home match at Chaifetz Pavilion against George Mason on Sept. 23. SLU will then wrap up their weekend with a home Sept. 25 match against George Washington. Te match against George Mason will be SLU’s Atlantic 10 conference opener, and SLU will hope to put their fall tournament woes this season behind them to compete for the top spot in the A-10.

The following week, a potentially pivotal match awaits the Billikens, as the Dayton Flyers, last season’s A-10 conference champions, will visit Chaifetz Pavilion.

If SLU is to stand any chance at winning the conference, they will want to show that they can overcome the Flyers. This year’s A-10 Conference Championship tournament will take place starting Nov. 18, hosted here at SLU’s Chaifetz Pavilion.