Volleyball | Photo by Adam Campbell | The Wright State Guardian
On Sept. 14, the Wright State University women’s volleyball team began hosting the 2023 Tru by Hilton Dayton Beavercreek Invitational. This year’s participants included Butler University, the University of Cincinnati and WSU.
During the same tournament last season, the Raiders took down the University of Dayton twice while defeating Wichita State University once.
Going into the tournament, WSU held a record of 3-6, having faced three teams that are nationally-ranked. The Raiders also entered Thursday’s first round holding a home winning streak of 16 consecutive games. Butler came into Dayton with a record of 5-4 on the 2023 campaign with Cincinnati at 6-2.
As the tournament got set to start, the Butler Bulldogs, former members of the Horizon League, held the all-time record against WSU with a 32-21 record. The Cincinnati Bearcats also held the all-time record over the Raiders, going 21-11.
Game 1 versus Butler
WSU opened the invitational by taking on its former Horizon League foe, Butler. After being tied 15-all in the first set, WSU rallied for five consecutive points that would lead to a first set victory by a score of 25-17. The Raiders put up a hitting percentage of .387 in the opening frame.
WSU carried its momentum into the second frame, scoring six of the first eight points. After leading 21-16, the Bulldogs would not go down easily. The Raiders would hang on to secure the second set with a 25-22 victory.
WSU continued its fast start in the third set, claiming seven of the first nine points. After trailing 15-8, Butler pulled back to 18-16 before the Raiders scored seven of the final 10 points to secure a 25-19 third set victory.
WSU opened its home campaign with a clean sweep over the Bulldogs. Three Raiders, Megan Alders, Callie Martin and Sam Ott, reached 10 kills on the evening, while Aaliyah Byers finished right behind with nine.
“We kind of had our offense going from all three spectors and our back row attack, so it was nice to have a spread offense tonight,” Alders stated following the victory.
The Raiders managed 114 total attacks, 14 fewer than the Bulldogs. The WSU offense put its efficiency on full display.
“I think we tried our best to limit the amount of swings we took just to be really purposeful and productive on the swings we were taking,” Martin added.
WSU outscored the Bulldogs in total hitting percentage, going .289 with Butler hitting .117.
“Our team, for most of the match, I thought was calm and confident in the way we attacked different things. It was a great start,” Head Coach Travers Green mentioned.
WSU had an off day following the victory over Butler before hosting UC on Saturday.
Game 2 versus UC
The Raiders returned to McLin Gymnasium on Saturday afternoon to host the Bearcats.
WSU picked up right where they left off from Thursday, scoring five of the first seven points before scoring five of the final seven points. The Raiders pulled out an opening set victory by a final score of 25-14.
“We came out and executed our game plan really well in the first set, which was to serve them tough and play as clean as we possibly could,” coach Green stated after the match.
The second set opened with both teams going back and forth. UC rallied to take a 16-10 lead. WSU responded by going on a 4-1 run before ultimately falling 25-16.
The Bearcats opened the third set by giving Wright State a taste of its own medicine, scoring six of the first eight points. Trailing 21-10, WSU put its resiliency on full display after going on a 11-1 run and taking a 22-21 lead. The rally featured points from several players and a good service run from Jenny Morey.
“It is a little stressful coming in down and trying to pick the team back up, but I think serving is one of the skills I’m most confident in my own game,” Morey stated on the service run. “I go back there and it is just me and the ball, and I love that kind of opportunity.”
WSU’s lead was short-lived, as the Bearcats salvaged a 25-23 victory in the third set.
In the fourth set, the two teams went back and forth before UC scored seven consecutive points to take a 19-15 lead. The Raiders kept fighting and trying to rally but fell short 25-21 in the fourth and final set of the match.
Sam Ott led the Raiders with 12 kills in the afternoon, while Alders recorded 10, Martin with nine and Byers with eight.
“We’re never going to go away. We’re gonna keep pushing and come back stronger than we were today,” Ott mentioned following the tough loss.
WSU still managed to win the invitational with a 1-1 record in the tournament.
Horizon League play
The Raiders traveled to Robert Morris this Tuesday to open conference play, winning in four sets. WSU now holds a record of 5-7, going 1-0 in conference play.
WSU will return home on Saturday, Sept. 23, to host its arch-rival Northern Kentucky in a rematch of the 2022 HL Championship.
Viewers can watch Saturday’s match on ESPN+ or listen on WWSU 106.9 FM.