The volleyball team, fueled by its 3-0 shutout of George Washington, dug out a big win against Atlantic Ten Conference rival Charlotte on Saturday.
The Owls, in their third match of a four-game home stand against conference teams, beat Charlotte, 3-1, snapping the 49ers’ four-game win streak.
Earlier this season, the 49ers won, 3-2, in their home matchup with the Owls.
When the 49ers came to McGonigle Hall on Saturday, the Owls got some revenge against one of just two teams to beat the Owls in conference play. The Owls (16-9, 9-2) earned a season split with the 49ers, who fell to 15-13 overall, 7-4 in the A-10.
The season split against the 49ers “feels good,” junior middle blocker Stephanie Buynovsky said.
“It feels good to beat them, especially at home,” Buynovsky said. “They’re the only other conference team to beat us [aside from Dayton].”
The Owls got off to a dominant start, winning the match’s first two games, but the 49ers fought back to win the third.
Though statistics for the match were not available, two of the Owls’ middle blockers – freshman Patricia Vernon and sophomore Christina DeMarco – stepped up in the deciding final games. Teammates also congratulated junior setter Maira Mogollon after the game for excellent passes that helped capture the victory.
The win kept the Owls in the lead in the A-10 East Division. Sophomore outside hitter Colleen Egan and freshman defensive specialist Katrina Mullins agreed that the Owls, who have just a two-game cushion in the division, cannot look past other teams.
“It’s a really fun win [over the 49ers], but we still have to play every match,” Egan said.
Mullins added, “We still have a lot to work on before the [conference] tournament,” which begins Nov. 18 at Rhode Island. Buynovsky said the team’s focus after the win was on self-improvement.
“I wasn’t too thrilled with our blocking tonight,” Buynovsky said. But coach Bob Bertucci praised the Owls on converting what he calls “small balls.”
“Small balls are like the things in basketball that players do away from the ball,” Bertucci said, “like setting a pick for a teammate, moving without the ball to set up shots.”
Converting tips off blockers’ hands, Bertucci said, is something the Owls have stressed in practice, especially following their tough loss to Dayton on Oct. 22.
Bertucci gave assistant coach Bai Qing Liu credit for stressing the importance of those “small balls.”
“He stresses it in practice every day,” Bertucci said. “I see that we’re getting a lot better at converting them.”
After the game, Bertucci cited the Owls’ change of tactics against the 49ers as one of the factors that ensured the win.
“Last time we were serving to their best passer all game, this time we were blocking the cut-back shot and we changed things up,” Bertucci said.
The Owls continue their drive toward the A-10 playoffs with a home match tomorrow against city rival Villanova.
Danielle K. Milner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.