Volleyball: O’Connell leads College to fifth straight victory

Powered by a record-setting defensive performance, the College (12-7, 4-1 CAA) extended its winning streak to five games on Tuesday, topping American (9-10, 3-2 Patriot) 3-1 in Washington, D.C.

Against the eight-time defending Patriot League champions, the College set a program record for blocks in a four-set match, tallying 21 putbacks, 2 solo blocks and 38 block assists. Additionally, the squad’s block total was the fifth-highest for any match in school history, while the block assist total was good enough for fourth all-time.

Leading the way for the Tribe was freshman middle blocker Shaylin O’Connell, who finished with 12 blocks, 10 more than her previous career-best. O’Connell’s 12 blocks places her in sole possession of third place for most blocks in a four set match in Tribe history. She also scored 7 points in the match, topping the 3.5 points she contributed against Hampton Sept. 12.

“It was really exciting, because I haven’t done any blocking stuff in the way that they taught me,” O’Connell said. “I’ve always played blocker, but they’ve been teaching me new techniques every day since the beginning of the year.”

Sophomore middle blocker Anne Dorf and sophomore outside hitter Lindsay Kresch recorded nine blocks each to back O’Connell, while senior outside hitter Lauren Powell chipped in 13 kills and 7 digs.
The Tribe quickly took control of the match by winning the first two sets.

In the 25-16 first set, senior outside hitter Lauren Powell registered 5 of the Tribe’s 11 kills. She finished the match with 13 kills.

The College continued to dominate in the second set. Kresch and senior outside hitter Bryana Carey posted 4 kills each, pushing the College to a 25-19 advantage. Kresch led the team with 14 kills and was second in blocks with 9.

After intermission, the visitors stormed back to take the set 25-17. The College led 14-13, yet the Patriots utilized an 11-2 run to surge ahead and take their only set of the night.

The Tribe regained composure and came back to take the fourth set, 25-20, with a comfortable lead throughout most of the match’s final stanza.

“[American] had a lot of injuries, so they were scrambling quite a bit, ” Head Coach Melissa Shelton said. “They weren’t as sharp as they usually are. It’s tough to get focused for a mid-week, non-conference game.”

The Tribe will return to conference play Friday night at 7 p.m. seeking revenge as they travel to face VCU. Last month, the Rams triumphed 3-1 over the College at Kaplan Arena. The teams are tied for second place in the CAA heading into Friday’s match. The Rams have won three of their last four matches, including three shutout victories over James Madison, UNCW and Georgia State. VCU is in the midst of an eight-game home stand with the College as their fifth opponent.

“We haven’t played a team this good since the last time we played them,” Shelton said. “We’ll see how much we have improved after tomorrow.”


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