Ever had the feeling of homesickness? You know, that type of thing when there’s this urge to be in a familiar, comfortable setting. Business, work, school- all things that can pull you away from that place, wherever it may be, that is home.
That feeling of endearment played a huge role in the volleyball team’s dominance
of two conference foes this past weekend. The Owls hadn’t played a home game since early September and provided quite a homecoming for their fans at McGonigle Hall. In their two matches against Fordham Friday and Rhode Island Saturday, the Owls dropped only one game.
Ending an up-and-down road trip that spanned four states and two time zones in 27 days with stops in Utah and Missouri is exactly
what the reeling team needed. Their 9-8 overall record, when broken down, signifies this:
In matches off campus, the team is a woeful 3-7 and has failed to register a game win in five of those seven losses.
At home they own a 6-1 record while serving up four shut outs.
The inconsistent play became more apparent
last week after their two road matches against Duquesne and Saint Louis. The Owls dominated a tough Dukes team only then to be dominated themselves the following night against the Bilikens, who rank atop the Atlantic Ten Conference West Division with an unblemished 4-0 conference record.
As usual, much is expected from this year’s Owls team. They were selected in a preseason coaches poll to win the East Division.
Following a dream season in which the Owls went 11-2 in the conference and 23-13 overall, but fell short in the A-10 championship match against Dayton, the hype is explicable.
Though they lost First-Team All-Conference
member Zhen Jia Liu, the team has been able to count on two shining stars from last season. Sophomore Patricia Vernon and senior Yue Liu have lived up to their billing.
Liu’s 238 kills and 191 digs leads the team. Vernon leads the team in blocks with 60 and ranks among the team leaders in kills. With the emergence of junior Ying Sun Ling, the Owls have three formidable weapons on the floor at all times. Ling’s 168 digs are third on the team and her 143 kills rank fourth.
Currently the Owls are leading that very division in which they were dubbed to win in August, but they have big matches with rivals approaching. This weekend’s matches against Dayton and Xavier loom large. Both are away games.
The Flyers, who are tied with Saint Louis for the top spot in the West division, have won the last three A-10 tourneys and coincidentally are located in Dayton (which is the location of this season’s championship tournament will be held).
Xavier sits at 2-1 and in third place in the West. The Musketeers lost both meetings to Temple last season and certainly have revenge brewing.
With 12 games remaining in the regular season, only four of those games will be inside the cozy walls of McGonigle Hall. So if the Owls plan on turning Ohio into a home away from away, they better get accustomed to the road jerseys and hope that this season ends like Cinderella, and not like Vagabond Lady.
Jeremy Drummond can be reached at email@example.com.