Volleyball stays strong through early tests

By: Robert Jamieson

While the Musketeers did not meet their expectations of a sweep at the Duquesne/Robert Morris Invitational this weekend, they continue to lay a solid framework for coming success this year.

The Smith sisters continue to lead the way for the Musketeers after taking home All-Tourney recognition, making this the second straight tournament from which Alex Smith has taken home this honor.

While routine victories are becoming common from the women’s volleyball team, its success is much more than the players that will get the majority of the headlines: this team plays as a cohesive unit, and therein lies the success to its hot start.

Xavier opened up the invitational with a straight set win over Robert Morris (25-22, 25-20, 25-23). Senior outside hitter Sarah Brown led the way with her second double-double of the season with 12 kills and 10 blocks.

Each set proved to be a tough test but each saw Xavier making the key plays in the end that made the difference.

The victory was a completely different story than last week vs. Michigan, something that made head coach Mike Johnson proud.

“Robert Morris is a disciplined, defensively scrappy team, which played with a ton of emotion,” Johnson said.

“I’m glad that we were able to respond to their surges and pull out the match at the end.”

Game two proved to be a tough test against the Dukes of Duquesne. The Musketeers fell in five sets (26-24, 25-21, 18-25, 20-25, 15-12).

This was a tough loss for Xavier, who fell down two sets to none and then rallied to tie the score at two all. Xavier held an 11-10 lead in the deciding set before handing over its second loss of the season.

Freshman standout outside hitter Abbey Bessler had one of her best games to date with some key serving in the fourth set and recorded a career-high 16 kills.

While some teams would struggle after a tough loss, Xavier responded with arguably its most complete game of the young season with a dominating straight set win against Central Michigan (25-18, 25-18, 25-14).

Aubree Smith continued her surgical set-up of the offensive attack with 34 assists and averaged an impressive 11.4 assists-per-set in the tournament.

The Musketeers kept the momentum up last night at Cintas Center, defeating the Redhawks of Miami Ohio in three straight sets. Bessler continued her superb for as she added 15 more kills and nine digs in the victory.