VCU Volleyball started their journey to defend their Atlantic 10 Volleyball Championship in the A-10 Semi-Finals at the Siegel Center. The top-seeded Rams faced #5 Saint Louis as the champs slammed the door on the Billikens to lock up their spot in the A-10 Final.
An Opening Trade of Sorts
Tori Baldwin began Set 1 with a solo block followed by her first VCU kill. Saint Louis stayed within striking distance while Paula Neciporuka added more offense for the Rams. More Black & Gold reinforcements arrived in Julia Adler and Gina Tuzzolo on the kill tally. Tuzzolo smashed momentum in favor of VCU with a kill after a big rally to go up 9-5.
The Billikens did not go away as SLU earned some much-needed points to tie VCU once again. Vicky Giommarini knocked down a kill from the left wing keeping the Rams out in front. Defense was in prime blocking form with VCU collecting two consecutive team blocks late in Set 1. Saint Louis burned a timeout trailing 20-18.
That’s Your Warning
Saint Louis Head Coach Kent Miller was shown a yellow card after VCU went ahead 23-21. Miller was voicing his displeasure to the officials about the previous play leading to the yellow card being shown. Giommarini gave VCU set point on her third kill; Jasmin Sneed teamed up with Adler for the set-winning block. VCU won Set 1 25-22 to go up 1-0 over Saint Louis.
Who’s House? OUR HOUSE!
Set 2 was not too kind for the visitors. Baldwin and Giommarini set the tone with the VCU team block. Tuzzolo added more fuel with a service ace for the Black & Gold. Saint Louis reversed their fortune with an ace of their own to take a 7-5 lead.
That lead was short-lived thanks to a VCU service ace from Jasmin Sneed. The Rams used a 6-0 scoring run to push ahead 15-9. Baldwin and Tuzzolo denied SLU twice at the net and raised the volume inside the Siegel Center. Saint Louis used a timeout after Alyna Draper scored an ace and Tuzzolo racked up another kill.
VCU had 6 total blocks in Set 2. Adler would deny the Billikens one more time before Baldwin put the final nail in the coffin. VCU won Set 2 25-15 and one set away from a trip back to the A-10 Championship match.
Just A Bit More
Set 3 started off well for VCU in the beginning stages. A 6-0 scoring surge for the Black & Gold powered by Giommarini and Sneed had the Rams in good form. That advantage would improve to 10-3 after attacking errors by SLU and a Giommarini service ace.
Things were not looking good for Saint Louis. The Billikens could not stop the killing power of Giommarini, Sneed, and Tuzzolo while being blocked at the net. A lifeline appeared for Saint Louis while trailing 9-19 in the form of 8 consecutive points.
VCU made a handful of attacking errors and Saint Louis connected on a pair of blocks to cut the deficit to size. A service ace by Cayce Chaykowsky and an SLU kill from Maya Taylor had the Billikens trailing 16-19. Giommarini tallied her 12thkill of the match to reverse VCU’s misfortunes.
Jasmin Sneed planted another VCU service ace with the Rams getting close to the victory. Saint Louis came up big in the closing stages with a 4 point swing tying the set at 22-22. Both teams traded the lead until Baldwin and Giommarini blocked the Billikens one more time at the net.
The Champs Are Here!
With match point in hand, Isabelle Walsh made a costly attacking error for SLU to give VCU match point and the victory. VCU solidified their spot in the A-10 Championship match with a 3-0 sweep over Saint Louis. The Rams are making their second consecutive trip to the A-10 Final and are in search of a second consecutive conference championship.
Vicky Giommarini led VCU with 12 kills versus Saint Louis. Gina Tuzzolo had 8 kills and 6 total blocks. Tori Baldwin led the Rams in blocks with 8 along with 4 kills. Jasmin Sneed had 7 blocks with her 4 kills on the day. VCU outblocked SLU 24-6.
The 2018 Atlantic 10 Volleyball Championship begins at Noon on Sunday, November 18th. #1 VCU will face #2 Dayton in a rematch of last year’s championship game. That match will be broadcasted on ESPN+ from the Siegel Center.