By: Robert Jamieson
This past weekend’s Xavier Invitational saw Xavier grab a pair of wins against Northern Kentucky University (25-15, 25-16, 23-25, 25-15) and Clemson University (27-25, 25-15, 25-19).
The Musketeers took care of business in these two matches with solid performances by redshirt senior Alex Smith and freshman Abbey Bessler who were named to the all-tournament team. While these wins laid a good framework for success for the coming year, they were also expected.
For this team to live up to their expectations, they will need to start having better showings against the top tier teams like No. 7 Michigan, who beat the Musketeers in straight sets (25-18, 25-22, 25-19).
“Although we lost to University of Michigan, the match was actually very close and fortunately it showed us the areas we can improve on for this coming weekend” redshirt junior Alex Blair said.
While each set was indeed very competitive, with the first two sets showing the Musketeers jumping out to a 4-0 lead, Michigan showed why they were a final four team from a year ago by taking control and comfortably finishing off each set.
The three game tournament showed plenty of highlights as well, leaving little doubt that this team will have plenty to build on as the season continues.
Senior middle blocker Alex Smith showed why she is deserving of her preseason accolades, racking up 31 kills over the three match stretch.
Not to be out done, Bessler matched Smith with 31 kills herself. Per usual, the Musketeers saw multiple players filling out the stat sheet, something that will need to be continued for them to succeed this year.
Senior Sarah Brown finished the tournament decimal points away from averaging a double-double with 28 kills and 31 digs.
Blair led the team with 11 blocks while sophomore Aubree Smith is making Steve Nash’s numbers look pathetic, averaging 37.6 assists per game.
The Musketeers will be heading to Pittsburgh this weekend to compete in the Duquesne/Robert Morris Invitational before returning home on Sept. 10 to face the Redhawks of Miami Ohio.