Volleyball tied for second in Atlantic 10 behind conference rival Dayton

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Volleyball tied for second in Atlantic 10 behind conference rival Dayton

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SLU women’s volleyball shot up to second place in the Atlantic 10 Conference with solid victories over the Duquesne Dukes and the La Salle Explorers. SLU is tied with Rhode Island for second place in the Atlantic 10 with a 7-2 conference record.

Both teams are behind only perennial A-10 powerhouse Dayton, who is undefeated in the conference so far with a 9-0 record. Dayton defeated SLU earlier this season at Chaifetz Pavilion in a sweep.

The first victory of the weekend came against Duquesne by a score of 3-1. The match took place at home in Chaifetz Pavilion, and was marked by a strong SLU performance and some individual milestones.

SLU opened up the first set by winning very comfortably, by a score of 25-10. As a team, SLU compiled an attacking percentage of .444, showcasing an efficient attack. The defense came up strong also. Duquesne only managed a meager .036 attacking percentage in the first set.

The Billikens’ first-set success did not translate to the second set, as SLU’s offense sputtered, and the team only recorded an attacking percentage of .156. The Dukes eventually pulled off a 25-21 set victory to take the second set and tie the match 1-1.

However, the Billikens then rediscovered their winning touch in the third set, behind senior outside hitter Danielle Rygelski’s eight kills and senior middle blocker Taylor Paulson’s six kills on 11 attempts.

Finally, in the fourth set, junior outside hitter Nenye Okoro had five kills on eight attempts to lead the Billikens to a 25-14 victory. The set victory gave them the match, as well.

Several Billikens turned in strong performances in the match. Rygelski had 23 kills with a .314 attack percentage. The victory against Duquesne is the ninth time so far this season she has recorded more than 20 kills with a .300 attack percentage or better.

Meanwhile, Paulson also had a strong match, posting 12 kills, eight blocks and three aces. Her eight blocks are a season-high for Saint Louis. Sophomore setter Camila Rivas continued her strong performances after taking over full-time setting duties, tallying 45 assists. It was her fifth consecutive match of more than 40 assists.

Rygelski also reached a special milestone in the match against Duquesne. She moved to second alltime with her 1,790th career kill, and holds the Billiken record for career kills during the 25-point rally-scoring era. The rally-scoring era began in 2008.

Two days later, the Billikens returned to Chaifetz Pavilion to sweep the La Salle Explorers 3-0. Rygelski was again a standout performer, earning her 12th doubledouble of the season with 14 kills and 11 digs. The win also helped SLU finally reach .500 on the entire season, as the Billikens now own a record of 12-12.

In the first set, junior middle blocker Lauren Leverenz led the team by posting three kills on only four attempts. SLU won the set 25-23, partially behind her performance.

The second set saw an extremely efficient showing from the Billikens, who recorded a .520 attacking percentage, and the strong offense proved enough to put away the Explorers by a score of 25-18.

Rygelski then brought SLU the victory by helping the team complete the sweep. In the third set, which SLU won by a score of 25-20, she had six kills, three aces and three digs. Rygelski proved to be SLU’s leader at the end of the match in three statistical categories, with 14 kills, 11 digs and five aces.

Paulson also put in a good shift to help SLU to the sweep, earning seven kills and five blocks in the match. Leverenz continued her efficiency from the first set, with seven kills on nine attempts, with only one error in all of the three sets.

Next up for the Billikens will be another match against conference leaders Dayton on Friday, Oct. 28 at 6 p.m. The match against the Flyers will take place away from home in Dayton, Ohio.

While Dayton swept SLU in the first match, which was held at home in Chaifetz Pavilion, SLU was within striking distance of Dayton in each of those three sets.

In addition, one of last year’s top attackers, Okoro, will be back for the Billikens in this match, giving SLU a shot at an upset.

The Billikens will travel to Philadelphia, Pa. to take on La Salle on Nov. 4. They will stay in Pennsylvania to challenge Duquesne on Nov. 6. They have already beaten both squads recently, so they will look to repeat their performances.