Volleyball team faces first Big East foe

By: Adam Tortelli ~Staff Writer~

One week into Big East play Xavier women’s volleyball is still on pace for head coach Mike Johnson’s sixth straight season of at least 20 wins, currently holding a record of 8-6.
The Musketeers opened conference play this past Friday in the nation’s capital with a victory against the Georgetown Hoyas.

Great play came from all over the court as freshman libero Jesse Earl led the match with 25 digs, senior setter Aubree Smith set up her teammates with 35 assists and sophomore outside hitter Abbey Bessler carried the team with 15 kills.

After falling behind by three points in its first set, Xavier found itself tied at nine. It went on to a 3-0 run to obtain a lead that would not be lost for the remainder of the first set. Despite dropping their second set, the Musketeers found their niche in sets three and four by scores of 25-20 and 25-16 to ultimately take the match.

Xavier is now 4-0 all-time against the Georgetown Hoyas.

The Musketeers swept the season series last year during the inaugural season of the newly aligned Big East.

Just two days later, Xavier volleyball traveled to Omaha, Neb., where it failed to build on a strong start to the conference season.

The Blue Jays were able to take advantage of Xavier’s short rest, sending the team back to Cincinnati after just three games.

The team reached a low point in the second set when Creighton took advantage of 14 Musketeer errors.

Even during the tough day, there was a silver lining in the performance by Smith and freshman outside hitter Kristen Massa.volleyballbw

Smith amassed 12 more assists, eight digs and five kills while Massa shined with nine kills and two blocks.

Apart from her stellar play in the past two games, Smith is also closing in on third for Xavier’s all-time assist record.

The Musketeers now stand with a record of eight wins and six losses. They must elimate costly errors in order to continue competing in the Big East.

Even though Johnson has never ended a season below second in the conference (A-10 included), the team currently ranks fifth of ten Big East teams.

Xavier opens conference play at Cintas Center with a three-game home stand beginning with a match against the Villanova Wildcats at 7 p.m. on Oct. 3 followed by matches against Seton Hall and Marquette.