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Dynamics of a Comeback & St Louis Preview
Dynamics of a Comeback & St Louis Preview
Published by BeckysTXA
Dynamics of a Comeback & St Louis Preview

There was a lot on the line last Saturday when UD teed it up against RV Illinois St. The Redbirds had just come off one of the best weekends in program history by knocking off #14 Illinois, upsetting RV UCF and taking #8 Marquette to five sets. But coming into the match against the Flyers, ILL St had already gone 0-2 for the weekend and were looking to defend their votes in the coaches’ poll.

On the flipside, the Flyers were 1-1 for the weekend and looking to finish the pre-conference part of their schedule with a winning record heading into conference play. They had also received votes in the coaches’ poll, but saw it slip away after losing to SMU the week before. This was a match both teams desparately wanted to win. It was a five-set battle. UD fell behind by four points at 5-9 when head coach Tim Horsmon called a timeout.

“We talked to the team about competing,” Horsmon said. “We knew tactically what we wanted to do, but we also knew we needed to compete and fight to get back into the set.”

Coming out of the timeout, not much changed. Dayton again found itself in a big hole, behind 7-11. Illinois St was only four points from the victory. Dayton needed at a minimum, twice as many points. That’s a very tough task. After a kill by Jamie Peterson got it to 8-11, Horsmon sends in Carissa Beyer to serve for middle blocker Amelia Moore. This was only the 25th set, out of 51 played this year, that Carissa has played. She is a defensive specialist and serving specialist for the Flyers and mostly plays paired up with Amelia in the rotation. It’s the substitution limitation of 15 per set that keeps her off the court more than her abilities. During the first four sets, Amelia would serve and then sub out with Libero Maura Collins, who is a free sub and doesn’t count against the 15. To bring in Carissa requires Amelia to sub out with Carissa, counting for one sub, and then for Carissa and Amelia to sub back out after her serve ends, counting for a second sub. Then, Amelia and Maura sub under the free sub to put Maura on the court to play in the back row. Bringing in Carissa to serve for Amelia always counts two subs. Carissa is a better server and better back row defender than 6’5” Amelia. If there were no substitution rules, you would see this all the time. But because of the limitations, you only see it occasionally towards the end of 25-point sets when Horsmon has plenty of subs left, and in the shorten 15-point fifth sets. But, with Carissa serving, our best defender, Maura, was on the sideline, leaving Carissa, Mikaylah VanLanen and Liz House in the back row with Illinois St four points away from victory.

“Carrisa has shown on more than one occasion, her ability to come in at critical moments and serve tough,” Horsmon said. “She did the same thing last year in our wins over Ohio State and Tennessee. Carissa, Mik and House all made some gritty defensive plays during that run that helped get us back within striking distance.”

Serving under these conditions can be pressure-filled. The player knows they have to serve aggressively or it’s too easy for the other team to score with an in-system attack. But they have to balance that with the dreaded service error if they hit it into the net or long. And they have to execute serving to one of the six zones/players the coach on the sideline is calling. Here is how Carissa handled the pressure.

“When it was my rotation to go in, even with us trailing behind, I was thrilled to step on the court,” she stated. “I had no doubt in our team, that we were able to win the match, and I was excited to contribute and hopefully make an impact. Yes, my coach was giving me zones, and I knew it was important to hit those as the zones he gives are targeting a weaker passing spot for our opponent. I wouldn’t necessarily say I was going full-throttle because it was not a high risk-reward moment in my mind. I just knew I needed to stay aggressive, get them out of system, and let the ball do the work. Before I served, I just thought to myself, ‘ball in front, you know what to do.’ I had been in those pressure situations before, so I knew I just had to trust myself.”

On Carissa’s first serve, UD gets another kill from Jamie. 11-9 Redbirds. On Carissa’s second serve, the Flyers get a block from Jamie and Olivia Dubay. 11-10 Redbirds, and they call a timeout. As a server, this can be the kiss of death. Coaches call timeouts to ice servers all the time…because it works more than 50% of the time. It doesn’t get recorded in the stat’s this way, but it’s referred to as “point coach.”

“After the first timeout, I didn’t change my thought process. ‘Stay aggressive, ball in front, you know what to do,’” Carissa said. “And, it worked. I got an ace. I was not only happy with myself for being collected in that moment, but happy that I was able to make an impact for my team by simply taking it one point at a time.”

After her third serve, it’s tied 11-11. UD is back in it.

Carissa’s fourth serve resulted in another kill by Jamie…off a set from Carissa. 12-11 UD. And the back row defenders had to do their jobs to keep Dayton in this match.

“I did play defense. I had two digs and an assist during my run. My teammates were nothing but supportive. I knew they had my back and they knew I had theirs,” she said.

On Carissa’s fifth serve, the Redbirds finally got a kill to end her run, but she had done her job well leaving the court with the score 12-12 and the Flyers never trailed again. After a kill and attack error by Illinois St, it was tied again at 13-13. Jamie scored off a set from Bridget Doherty to set up match point at 14-13. Olivia and Rachael Fara then teamed up for a block to win the match 15-13. Comeback complete.

With Carissa serving, that put Jamie in the front row for all but the final point, which she served. She was in on five of our last eight points. Olivia had two blocks during the comeback. One she had to slide left to team up with Jamie and the second she had to slide right to finish it off with Rachael.

“Jamie continues to make big swings and she was an important part of that comeback in the fifth set,” Horsmon said. “Carissa’s service run and the fight we showed defensively allowed Jamie to stay aggressive despite having been down by four points. Liv provided a few key blocks throughout that last set. Her size, length and athleticism at the net as a blocker creates a lot of issues for attackers, especially when the block is well formed.”

So was Carissa ever nervous with such an uphill climb out of that 8-11 hole?

“To be honest, coming in, especially off the bench, at a time like that can be pretty difficult,” she said. “At that point it’s a mental game, because you have to find the balance of staying aggressive, yet knowing it’s not a time for an error. I love those high pressure moments, and all you have to do is tell yourself you are more than capable of stepping up. Our program revolves a lot about playing for the person next to you, and that concept alone also just makes you want to be better, not for yourself, but for your team.

“I knew they had my back and they knew I had theirs. It was a great team fight and win, and I wouldn’t want to do it with any other program.”

Well played. Well said. Great win and attitude heading into conference play.

@St Louis – Friday, September 27 @ 6 pm.

Horsmon expects the conference season to be as tough as always.

“From what I can see from win-loss records, the conference has improved as a whole throughout pre-conference play over last season,” He said. “With that being said, we expect to get everyone’s best shot, regardless of record.”

This will be the 49th meeting between SLU and UD, with Dayton leading the series 32-16. SLU is 6-7 on the season, but three of those losses were last weekend when SLU played without their best player. First Team A10 OH Maya Taylor was out and it’s not know if she will be available for this match. Taylor and Jamie lead the A10 in kills per set and points per set. Both play all six rotations.

“We do not know about why Maya Taylor missed time or her availability going forward,” Horsmon said. “It will be business as usual as we prepare for SLU this week.”

SLU and UD are travel partners within the conference, so this is the only match for both teams this week after the grueling out-of-conference pace.

“It should definitely give our athletes’ bodies a much needed rest,” Horsmon explained. “Playing three or four matches in a week is draining both physically and mentally. On the court it’ll allow us to clean up a few things that we need to work on and increase our workload in practice, while also giving those who need a rest some time to iron out some nagging soreness.”

Taylor’s availability for this match is a key. If she plays, she is a left side OH that our right side hitter, setter and middle blockers will need to stop by setting a block, or at a minimum, causing her to alter her shots, giving the back row a chance to dig her attacks. SLU will have to find a way to stop Jamie. Dayton will also have to get their other hitters going early to open up shots for all of the hitters. Moore, Dubay, Fara and Papesh have had some solid offensive games in the last two weeks.

A second key to the match will be SLU’s setter. So far this year, they have used 5’6” junior setter Kennedy Cordia and 5’10” freshman Shea Fuller. Cordia has more than 73% of the assists and Fuller 11%. It does not appear that the Bilikins are playing a two-setter offense, but rather Cordia is their starting setter with Fuller getting playing experience when possible. Cordia will need to block during her three front row rotations. Her block (including a middle blocker) will be set against our left OHs – 6’4” Jamie and 6’1” Alli Papesh. Cordia will be on the outside of the block. That should allow both Jamie and Alli to hit over her. Down the line shots will probably be targeted at a defensive specialist or outside hitter in that role. Cross court shots will probably aimed at SLU’s Libero. Additionally, SLU only has three players over 6’ tall. All three are in the rotation at 6’4”, 6’2” and 6’2”, but UD should be able to find hitting advantages as well as block advantages during this match.

Cordia at setter and Taylor at OH are in their third year as starters but have never beaten UD, going 0-4. I expect that to continue with or without Taylor in the line up. The Flyers need to build on the comeback fifth-set win over Illinois St that took a high degree of mental fortitude and a low-error performance. Down 7-11, UD made ZERO errors in the come-from-behind 8-2 winning run. But the rest of the story is Carissa had already served once in that fifth set. She came in with it tied 2-2 and committed a service error, launching a 9-5 run to give the Redbirds that 11-7 lead, making every serve later in the set to get UD back into the match, even more pressurized. But she’s got it right…

“At that point, it’s a mental game, because you have to find the balance of staying aggressive, yet knowing it’s not a time for an error…and all you have to do is tell yourself you are more than capable of stepping up.”

It’s time to step up and get on a roll. It’s time to build confidence in yourself and your teammates. A time for each player to learn to play more aggressively both mentally and physically. A time to send the A10 a reminder this conference belongs to Flyer Volleyball. It’s time to stamp this team’s Legacy in UD history. A sweep of SLU on Friday sends that message to the A10. Prepare. Play. Learn. All goals are still in play.
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By Chris R on 09-26-2019, 01:39 PM
New season starts. Time to hit our groove!
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