Volleyball rediscovers winning form, dominates Davidson and VCU

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Volleyball rediscovers winning form, dominates Davidson and VCU

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Following a tough 3-1 loss to conference foes Rhode Island, Saint Louis Women’s Volleyball responded in the best way possible in their two tough away games. The women’s volleyball team cruised past Davidson in a 3-0 sweep, before handling VCU comfortable in a 3-1 victory.

The Davidson game came as SLU attempted to keep pace and qualify for the Atlantic 10 Conference tournament that will be held at home, at Chaifetz Pavilion, in November. The away loss to Rhode Island put SLU at only a 3-2 conference record, but SLU went straight to work to improve that record against Davidson.

The Billikens jumped out to an early lead that held throughout the game, as they defeated the Wildcats in the first set by a score of 25-16. The second set proved to be a much closer one, as the Billikens won a back-and-forth contest by a score of 29-27. Finally, following the break, the Billikens managed to power past Davidson with a dominant 25-14 victory.

Senior outside hitter Danielle Rygelski was once again the star performer on offense for the Billikens, registering 29 kills in the three-set sweep in addition to an extremely efficient .377 match hitting percentage. Her 29 kills were the second-most that any player in the NCAA has recorded so far this season in a three-set match, behind only herself, when she posted 31 against George Mason on Sept. 23. Overall, in terms of kill totals, she now owns the first-best, second-best, fourth-best (26 versus Illinois State on Aug. 31), and eighth-best (24, versus George Washington on Sept. 25) marks in the NCAA this season. Her outstanding performances have cemented her as SLU’s most consistent, most prolific option in attack.

In addition to Rygelski, sophomore setter Camila Rivas also had a standout performance. She recorded 46 assists in the match, the 10th best set total in a three-set match in the NCAA this season. Meanwhile, senior middle blocker Taylor Paulson had a strong all-around performance, with nine kills, two aces, six digs, four blocks, and a .294 hitting percentage. Junior outside hitter Josie Gandall also managed to ace the Wildcats five times, a season-high for the SLU team.

Next up for the Billikens were the VCU Rams, and SLU once again rose to the occasion. However, the path to victory was not without its bumps, as VCU demolished SLU in the first set by a score of 25-13. The Billikens were held to a -.135 hitting percentage, indicating a large number of attacks that were turned back by the Rams front line.

However, SLU then found a second gear in the second set, winning by a score of 25-20 behind Rygelski’s .500 hitting percentage and eight kills. After the break, SLU took the third set by a score of 25-21, with Gandall recording three kills on three attempts and Paulson managing three kills on nine attempts. Both players went the entire set without an attacking error. The fourth and final set went to SLU as well, with Rygelski putting in seven kills and junior middle blocker Lauren Leverenz adding five kills on nine attempts for a 25-15 set win.

Other strong performers against the Rams were sophomore setter Camila Rivas and junior outside hitter Nenye Okoro, who is recently returned from injury. Rivas had her fourth consecutive match with greater than 40 assists, notching 48 assists, while Okoro continued her return from an injury with 16 digs on the defensive side of the match. Leverenz, in the entire match, had 10 kills, with an efficient .412 attack percentage.

Next up for the Billikens will be home showdowns against Duquesne on Oct. 21 and against La Salle on Oct. 23.