Rich Donahue | The Duquesne Duke
The St. Louis Billikens defeated the Duquesne women’s volleyball team 3-2 in an Atlantic 10 matchup Sunday afternoon at the Palumbo Center.
After winning the first set 25-23, the Dukes lost the second and third sets, 25-11 and 25-13 respectively. The Red & Blue ended up winning the fourth set 25-22, but came up short in the fifth and deciding set, losing 15-5. The team is now 6-8 (0-2 A-10), while the Billikens climbed to 12-4 (0-2 A-10).
Coach Steve Opperman said the match went to back and forth for the Dukes.
“It was too up and down,” Opperman said. “We played really well at times and collapsed at others.”
Senior middle hitter Arielle Love said that the team simply failed to close out the Billikens at home.
“We just didn’t finish,” Love said. “There were times that the effort was there, but we just didn’t finish.”
Up and down is just how the Dukes’ season has begun. The defending Atlantic 10 champions started the season by dropping all three matches in the Queen City Classic to Cincinnati, Xavier and UC Irvine, respectively. After the 0-3 start, the Dukes rebounded and won all three matches in the Duquesne/Robert Morris Invitational against UMass-Lowell, Indiana State and Youngstown State. The Dukes entered Sunday’s match 3-4 in their last seven matches following the 3-3 start. They lost to conference rival Dayton 3-1 on Friday night.
Coach Opperman said that the Dukes are getting every team’s best effort.
“We know a bullseye is on our back,” Opperman said. “We are still trying to find our way with our two new pieces [players] in our system. In our matches we are just not closing right now. Like last year we had a group that pretty much played together the year before so they knew how to close and finish and this group is still trying to figure that out.”
After edging out the Billikens in the first set, the Dukes were dominated by their A-10 rival in the second and third sets. St. Louis posted an astonishing attack percentage of .522 and .567 in their 25-11 and 25-13 set wins. Though they seemed out of luck, the Dukes rallied together and were able to take the fourth set 25-22, keeping them alive in the match.
Love said that a change in attitude helped the Dukes climb back into the match on Sunday.
“Our mentality changed,” Love said. “We talked about how we need to go after it and put it all out there and leave it all out there on the floor. It just clicked in everyone’s head that it was what we needed to do in order to compete.”
Despite the newfound mentality, the Dukes were not able to complete the comeback. The Billikens jumped on the Red & Blue quick in the final set, thwarting a Dukes’ rally before taking the set 15-5.
Following Sunday’s game versus St. Louis, the Dukes enter the heart of conference play with three straight road games against Fordham, Rhode Island and conference newcomer Davidson. The Dukes next home game will be Oct. 15 in a non-conference showdown with city-rival Robert Morris at 7 p.m. in the Palumbo Center.