Eric Purnell | The Duquesne Duke
After opening up conference play with a big 3-0 win over St. Louis, the Duquesne women’s volleyball team fell to VCU, in a hard fought 5 sets.
The match began with a back and forth first set that saw VCU snubbing out the Duke’s comeback attempt, for a 26-24 win in set one and the rest of the match followed suit.
In the second set the Dukes bounced back impressively from the opening set loss, attaining 16 kills and winning 25-21.
At the beginning of the third set VCU began to regain momentum, jumping out to an early lead when the Dukes took a big hit. Junior middle hitter Arielle Love went down early in the third set with an undisclosed ankle injury and was unable to return to the game.
Being one of the more prolific strikers on the team the loss of Love was significant.
“Arielle going out was really a blow to the team,” senior outside hitter Allison Foschia said.
The loss of Love and her striking ability was evident in that third set, as the Dukes went on to lose that set 25-17, recording their lowest offensive numbers of any full set in the game by far in that third set.
As the fourth set began to play out it seemed like the Dukes would not be unable to recover from the loss of Love, again being outscored for most of the set. With the set winding down and the game at stake with VCU being up 24-23
Duquesne head coach Steve Opperman called a crucial timeout, urging the Dukes to “just continue to fight.” The message was received loud and clear, as the Dukes scored three straight points to take the fourth set and extend the game to a fifth.
Despite the loss of love Opperman was confident in his squad.
“We’ve got a lot of people on the floor that can put balls away, so we just needed everybody else to take their game to another level, just stay focused and play within themselves, but stay assertive and aggressive,” Opperman said. “The aggressive team is the one that is going to win this game”.
That statement proved to be true as the more aggressive VCU squad thwarted the Dukes comeback attempt with a commanding 15-7 win in the final set.
Despite the loss, Foschia was pleased with the tean.
“[The game] showed the depth of our roster. With Arielle going out it was really a blow to the team, but everybody I thought really stepped up and did their job,” Foschia said. “We came through as a whole team, as a whole unit and I think that showed today.”
The Dukes will have four days off to work on eliminating unforced errors, as well as other adjustments like ball control and decision making that coach Opperman noticed in the game, before embarking on a conference play road trip beginning on Oct. 4.