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Going Dancing - A10 Tournament Champions Once Again
Going Dancing - A10 Tournament Champions Once Again
Published by BeckysTXA
11-24-2019
Going Dancing - A10 Tournament Champions Once Again

It was the team performance fans thought they would see over and over this year. A Flyer squad that was loaded with talent and could score from anywhere on the court or stop a good opponent cold at the net with a block. We had talent at every position. We were taller than any previous Dayton team. We had award-winning experience returning. Expectations were high for all the right reasons. And yet, against Top 50 competition, it mostly seemed we could not play at that level. Tonight, none of that matters, because the Flyers are dancing once again and they earned that honor playing their best match of the season.

It came down to players that have been there all season, buying into the hard work and system the coaching staff was preaching. Every week preparing, playing…learning. Chipping away at what they knew they had to improve. While superstar Jamie Peterson was racking up points at levels not seen in Dayton ever, holding the team together and coming up big to help win matches, it was the role players from week-to-week trying to find a way to contribute more for the team in support of Peterson. And on a day when Dayton would not have been favored in Vegas, in the biggest match of the season, it all came together to bring the championship home to Dayton. This team’s Legacy has not been written. They are not done.

Seniors Sierra Pla and Jordan Albarran were just two players, of many, that found a way in this tournament to contribute more. UDPride caught up with them last week before they traveled to Rhode Island in search of a couple more weeks in their Flyer careers. Both expressed the kind of commitment and attitude every coach wants from a player and all the Flyer Faithful should be proud.

“I will do my job at the highest level I can to help us win,” Pla said. “I know that no matter what happens, my teammates and coaches will have my back. I’m beyond excited for my last opportunity to compete in the A10.”

And, boy did Pla play at a high level. She had her best match ever as a Flyer against VCU. On a day the Ram’s defense was built around stopping Peterson from the left side, Dayton started going to Pla on the right. UD got Pla going early and just kept feeding her the ball with back sets whenever the pass was solid. Pla ran mostly modified slides to keep the VCU block guessing. She mixed up down-the-line and cross-court shots to score. Coming into the weekend, Pla had only taken 197 swings and was hitting .289. Today she took 28 swings – more than 12% of her attacks for the entire season in four sets. And she delivered with 15 kills, only three errors and a hitting percentage of .429. She also put up 1.0 blocks per set, well above her season average of .64. And most importantly…she led the team in points scored at 17.5. For her performance both today and yesterday against SLU, Pla was named to the All-Tournament team, her first post-season award.

Albarran also found a way to contribute from the back row. Defenders don’t always get the recognition those high-flying front row players receive. But Albarran was focused and ready when her number was called literally from the first serve. She launched a serve that fell out of the air to start the match. The VCU receiver did get a play on it, but VCU could not muster a strong attack and UD went up 1-0. Great statement-start for the Flyers. She picked up 6 digs on the day and had an opportunity to swing four times and landed two of those for a hitting percentage of .500. All her swings were from the back row. She was prepared to play her last A10 tournament for her Flyer Family.

“I will be working and giving energy at my highest level to compete for my teammates,” said Albarran. “My teammates will have my back and will expect the same effort and energy (from me) that they will bring as well.”

Both expressed what the last four years at Dayton with the volleyball program has meant to them.

“It’s changed my life and has turned me into someone who has higher expectations for myself,” Albarran said. “I have been pushed beyond my limits, not only as a volleyball player, but as a person and I am truly grateful for that.

“I have made such amazing friends and built incredible relationships that I will always cherish for the rest of my life,” she continued. “I thank not only my teammates, but my coaches for pushing me beyond my limits and out of my comfort zone. Without them, I would not be who I am today. I am forever grateful to be a part of this Flyer Family and to forever call it my second home.”

Pla expressed similar gratitude.

“These past four years have exceeded my expectations,” she said. “I have been pushed to grow as a volleyball player and as a person more than I could have ever imagined. I have made some of my best friends and learned so much from each and everyone of my teammates. I can’t thank my coaches enough for this experience.

“I feel super lucky to have been a part of this Flyer Family.”

Along with Rachael Fara who spoke eloquently about her UD experience earlier in the year and Olivia Dubay who we heard from last week, these four women could have been participating in their last competition as a Flyer. That day will come, but because of their efforts to find a way to contribute more, not only the last two days, but all season long, pushing themselves and their teammates to get better, their careers are not done.

The girls are going dancing once more. Over the next two weeks they will once again get after it to Prepare. They will celebrate Thanksgiving with a meal together as a family. And come the first week in December, they will bring everything they have learned this season to once again take their game to it’s highest level. They will battle to win and extend the season…one more match. Prepare. Play. Learn. Your Flyer Legacy is not yet written.
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By rollo on 11-25-2019, 06:06 AM
All Hail TXA!
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