A storm brewed inside the Siegel Center on a Monday evening where RVA witnessed a severe tornado and the actual volleyball match of VCU versus James Madison. The anticipation was matched with both teams laying everything on the line in a 5 set showdown that truly went the distance. Vicky Giommarini had another studded individual performance alongside her VCU squad coming up clutch in the final moments.
Opening Trades A Plenty!
VCU attacked the net aggressively to start off Set 1. After Tori Baldwin and Gina Tuzzolo denied JMU at the net, Paula Neciporuka captured a service ace to put VCU up 3-0. The Dukes would regain composure with blocks of their own until the Rams got some much-needed offensive back-up.
Giommarini got the hot hand early and passed the rock so to speak to her teammates. From Baldwin to Neciporuka to Tuzzolo, VCU was laying the smackdown on the ball and the Dukes. Giommarini would also hoist up a service ace along with her 5 opening set kills.
The visitors did not take this lying down. There were multiple chances by the Dukes taken but the deficit became too great with each VCU point. JMU began to rally late until an attacking error went wrong to give VCU the 25-21 win in Set 1.
This Means WAR!
Both teams traded points early in Set 2. As Giommarini and Tuzzolo scored kills for the Rams, JMU answered back with kills of their own. M’Kaela White gave the visitors some breathing room with a service ace to keep the Dukes ahead 5-3.
Julia Adler was set up by Tyler Sroufe on two separate occasions and Adler knocked down kill after kill. Joining the fray was Giommarini and Neciporuka as the Rams drew the set level at 10-10. The tide changed in favor of JMU when Giommarini committed two attacking errors in the row that forced VCU to call a timeout when trailing 11-14.
As the Dukes raced towards the finish, Baldwin and Jasmin Sneed pummeled James Madison on kills to stay within striking distance. Sneed’s second kill of the set brought the Rams within three points. She would get one more to savor set point, however, Kelly Vahos would slam the final kill in favor of JMU. The Dukes won Set 2 25-21 to tie the match at 1 set apiece.
Temperature Rises After Half-Time
The third set featured both teams going after each other. VCU took momentum thanks to Giommarini and Sneed cashing in service aces to go up 8-5. Adler and Baldwin continued being brick walls of defense with a VCU team block that fired everyone up.
JMU would not go away and continued putting up a fight. Bryn Recker and Vahos smashed much-needed kills for the Dukes on offense. Defensively, James Madison couldn’t stop Giommarini as she continued racking up kills that kept VCU ahead. Baldwin would make it 19-15 VCU after the assist by Dajah Ard.
A lifeline was given to the Dukes on two team blocks that put them within a point. After VCU called timeout, JMU would score two consecutive kills. Tuzzolo countered with a cross-court kill to tie the set at 21-21. Adler and Sneed kept it deadlocked with another duo block for the Black & Gold.
Paula Neciporuka made it 23-23 after the third kill of the set. Taylor Gail gave James Madison set point after a rally that lasted nearly two minutes between the two teams. A costly attacking error by Adler would secure the 25-23 win for the Dukes.
VCU Ain’t Done Yet!
James Madison took no time in Set 4 and unleashed a 5-0 scoring run with 5 straight opening kills. VCU head coach Jody Rogers called a timeout to gather her Rams and they bounced back winning the next 3 points of the set.
While the Rams continued to play, attacking errors became their downfall. Whether it was a bad timed hit or a powerful strikeout of play, VCU couldn’t catch a rhythm and trailed 8-13. Coach Rogers burned another VCU timeout and once again the Rams got back in the groove.
Adler and Baldwin would get a 5-0 scoring swing started with a tag team block for VCU. Giommarini would follow that with a kill and JMU committed two errors. Tuzzolo would come back on the court and smack down the set-tying kill at 13-13. Baldwin and Tuzzolo were not done as the two Rams managed a 3-0 scoring run that put VCU in the driver’s seat.
A timeout was called by the visitors at 19-17 VCU. Coach Rogers would sub Adler back in alongside Sneed and the two Rams halted JMU at the net twice. Following that, Sneed got hot on offense with a kill. Adler would force a 5th set with the last kill to bring Set 4 home to VCU 25-23.
Another opening rally by JMU was in the works in the final set. Baldwin began set 5 with a VCU kill and JMU countered with 4 consecutive points off 2 kills and 2 team blocks. Giommarini and Sneed were able to hit the sweet spot on the court where JMU had trouble defending to bring VCU roaring back.
At 10-10, intensity grew with every point tallied. Jacqui Koebel’s service ace was quickly answered by a VCU kill from Giommarini. James Madison would have match point at 14-12 and Sneed got a life-saving VCU to kill off the assist from Tyler Sroufe. Sarah Martin would commit a ball handling error for JMU to tie the set once again at 14-14.
Ice Water In Their Veins!
Another clutch moment by Jasmin Sneed was on display. JMU would receive match point again after a team block. Sroufe found the VCU junior again as Sneed soared up the rafters and smashed another game-saving kill. Tied at 15-15, M’Kaela White made an error for the Dukes on the kill attempt.
V-C-U! was chanted inside the Siegel Center as Julia Adler slammed home the match-winning kill across the court. The Rams embraced each other on the court and the sidelines as VCU bounced back with a 3-2 victory of James Madison.
Final Stats & What’s Up Next
Leading the Rams versus JMU was Vicky Giommarini with another double-double of 19 kills and 10 digs to go with her 2 service aces. Tori Baldwin collected 11 kills and 7 blocks. Paula Neciporuka’s number of the night was 11 with 11 kills and 11 digs. Julia Adler was the fourth Ram in double-digits on the kill tally with 10 and 7 total blocks.
Dajah Ard had 33 assists and Tyler Sroufe put up 21 assists. VCU as a team hit .226% versus James Madison. JMU had 5 different Dukes finish with 11 kills or more. The Rams broke James Madison’s 4 match winning streak and improve to a 5-7 record overall. Atlantic 10 conference play begins next for VCU Volleyball as the Rams host La Salle in their home conference opener on Friday, September 21st at 7 PM.