Volleyball clinches third seed in A-10 Championship

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Volleyball clinches third seed in A-10 Championship

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Saint Louis women’s volleyball wrapped up its regular season with two weekend matches. SLU first swept Virginia Commonwealth 3-0 at home at Chaifetz Arena on Friday, Nov. 12 and then sent off SLU’s seniors with a dominant 3-1 sweep of the Davidson Wildcats on Sunday, Nov. 14.

The match against VCU was the second time that the two teams had played all season, with the first occurring on VCU’s home court in Richmond. SLU won that matchup, 3-1, and this time, having home-court advantage only served to tip the scales further in SLU’s favor.

Once again, the standout performer was senior outside hitter Danielle Rygelski. She recorded 21 kills with five errors on 33 attacks for a .485 attack percentage in the sweep.

SLU started off weak, struggling to get going as VCU jumped out to an early lead in the first set, but Rygelski notched eight kills to lead the Billikens to a 25-20 set victory.

The second set saw another strong performance from Rygelski, who recorded nine kills and one error on 11 attacks. However, the team as a whole was also very efficient. The Billikens had an attack percentage of .500 as a team. SLU won the set comfortably by a score of 25-15.

SLU then completed the sweep quite easily, dominating the VCU Rams by a score of 25-14 in the third set to seal the victory. Junior middle blocker Lauren Leverenz led the team in this set, with four kills coming on four attacks for a perfect attack percentage.

Overall, SLU was a much more efficient team than VCU was. SLU had an attack percentage over the entire match of .384, and they managed to hold VCU to a .136 attack percentage.

Other Billikens also had good games against VCU. Junior outside hitter Nenye Okoro had eight kills and 10 digs. Senior middle blocker Taylor Paulson had four blocks, the most on the Billikens. One of those blocks was a solo effort. Finally, senior setter Ashley Gagen had an outstanding game, recording 37 assists, only one shy from her career best.

The Billikens then finished off their 2016 regular season with a 3-1 home victory against Davidson. The first set went to the Billikens over the Wildcats, courtesy of a strong performance from Gagen, who recorded eight assists and five digs as SLU won 25-19.

The Billikens then topped the Wildcats again in the second set, hitting eight kills and adding six digs for a 25-20 victory. However, after the break, Davidson pulled one back with a 25-21 third-set victory.

However, the Billikens remained focused and closed out the fourth set 25-13. The offense was shared among the outside hitters in this set, as Rygelski had four kills on five attempts, and sophomore outside hitter Monica Loftus had four kills on four attempts. Neither attacker had an error in the fourth set.

Several Billikens had notable performances. Junior libero Mackenzie Long reached 1000 digs in her collegiate career in the match, and is only the 18th Billiken to do so. Rygelski had 26 kills and 11 digs for her 13th double-double this season. Okoro also had a double-double, with 15 kills and 11 digs.

Long, in addition to her milestone-reaching defensive play, had five service aces, including three that came in the decisive fourth set. In terms of efficiency, Loftus stood out. She had eight kills on 13 attempts, for a stellar .615 attack percentage in the match.

SLU has earned the No. 3 seed in the Atlantic 10 Conference Championship, which will take place at Chaifetz. Their first match will be against Davidson, and Rhode Island awaits if SLU wins.