By: Ryan O’Toole ~Staff Writer~
The Xavier women’s volleyball team is off to a roaring start. The team opened the season at home with the Queen City Invitational, sweeping the competition and earning a glowing 3-0 record to begin the year. Xavier’s first opponent, UC Irvine, did not make things easy.
The Anteaters nabbed the first set, 25-23, despite the point-for-point play by both teams.
Xavier came back with conviction, winning the next three sets by scores of 25-15, 25-20 and 25-14 to secure the victory. Seniors owned the night. Aubree Smith had 31 assists while Sariah Suryadevara contributed with 13 digs and five aces.
Next up for the Musketeers was Duquesne, a team ranked as a preseason Atlantic 10 favorite. Much like the first match, Xavier lost the first set, and the rest of the contest was back and forth.
Xavier, however, was able to prevail in five and take home the victory behind sophomore Abby Bessler’s first double-double of the year. She recorded 14 kills and 18 digs in the win.
“We pride ourselves on being tough and resilient,” head coach Mike Johnson said.
“With our backs against the wall, we found a way to win. Really good teams have a way of doing that and I’m glad we were able to respond against a really good Duquesne team.”
Bessler wasn’t the only one to step up for Xavier. Freshman Mackenzi Humm showed great teamwork racking up 44 assists, while Alex Blair, Makayla Agin and Kristen Massa all recorded double-digit kills.
The team had great performances turned in by multiple players that help give the Musketeers the edge in the match.
The final game of the invitational was against hometown rival University of Cincinnati.
Bessler, already having recorded one double-double earlier in the day, once again turned in a dominant performance and showed why she is one of the most exciting young players in the Big East.
This time, Xavier won the first set and did not look back.
The Musketeers followed with wins of 25-17 and 25-19, ending their perfect weekend and leaving the Invitational victorious.
“This is my first 3-0 weekend in five years since I’ve been here…its a truly amazing feeling,” senior Alex Blair said. “Especially on the new court, we had a great crowd tonight in front of a lot of fans. It feels even better to beat one of our rivals, especially UC.”
Xavier got off to a strong start and they look to continue the momentum. Play resumes for the Musketeers against the Oakland Golden Grizzlies on Sept. 5 at the Mizzou Tiger Invitational.