RECAP: Cesarini and Golden Grizzlies sweep Colonials

The+Colonials+were+swept+by+Oakland+in+both+the+weekend+and+the+match+on+Tuesday+night.+Photo+Credit%3A+Tyler+Gallo

The Colonials were swept by Oakland in both the weekend and the match on Tuesday night. Photo Credit: Tyler Gallo

By Tyler Gallo, Sports Editor

MOON TOWNSHIP– Robert Morris volleyball (0-2, 0-2 Horizon) was back in action on Tuesday evening seeking a series split with Oakland (2-0, 2-0). Oakland won yesterday’s match in five sets, but had a much easier time of it in the second match, sweeping the ailing Colonials on the strength of a second straight dominant performance from freshman Patti Cesarini. They picked up the sweep of both the series and the match on Tuesday.

Patti Cesarini led the way for the second straight match in kills and points, picking up 16 this time around. Photo Credit: Tyler Gallo

The sweep was tough, but head coach Dale Starr says that if the team can put this series behind them, it will be a better effort next time.

“We just have to continue to move forward, and at practice, we will identify where we need to be better,” Starr said. “Our effort tonight was spotty, and that’s where we need to get better next time.”

Behind the eight-ball once again out of the gates missing 2019 NEC Player of the Year Emma Granger and All-NEC First Team member Maria Alfano due to injury, RMU struggled early in the opening set, falling to a 6-0 deficit and forcing Starr to take a timeout. The Colonials responded with a 15-12 run out of the timeout, making Rob Beam take a timeout of his own. Robert Morris, furiously coming back in the set, turned the tides by tying it, but Oakland regained their composure and took the set 25-23, capped off by a Jamie Walling kill.

Cesarini led this set in both kills and assists with five, while Whitney Brown accrued 14 assists and a pair of Colonials, Alyssa Hudak and Emma Brown, racked up two blocks.

The Colonials once again fell victim to an early deficit in the second set. Oakland had the early edge, going on a 9-3 run, and a Starr timeout did not do much to help the Colonials’ fortunes in the second set as their original deficit proved too much to overcome. They did get the score to 12-9 and made Oakland coach Rob Beam take a timeout, but the Golden Grizzlies took control of the set after and won 25-16 thanks to a Brittany Welch kill.

Cesarini still led in kills and points after the second set with 11 and Whitney Brown held the lead in assists at 15. Not much of the statistical leaders changed after this set with Cesarini continuing to dominate.

Whitney Brown notched 32 assists in the loss to Oakland. Photo Credit: Tyler Gallo

The third set was in control of the Colonials for most of the early portion, however, they struggled to muster a lead of more than two as the set went back-and-forth. At the media timeout, Oakland held a 15-13 lead. The Colonials did not go down quietly, battling to within one and forcing an Oakland timeout. It was almost fitting that Cesarini put the final nail in the coffin with her 16th kill, sealing a sweep for the Golden Grizzlies 25-23.

Final Statistic Leaders

Kills: Patti Cesarini, Oakland, 16 / Abby Ryan, RMU, 11

Assists: Whitney Brown, RMU, 32 / Madison Ross, Oakland, 22

Blocks: Jamie Walling, Oakland, 4 / Alyssa Hudak/Emma Brown, RMU, 3

Digs: Whitney Brown, RMU, 14 / Lindsay Wightman, Oakland, 11

Points: Patti Cesarini, Oakland, 16 / Abby Ryan, RMU, 11

RMU travels to UIC for an early-week two-game tilt next week on February 1-2. Starr knows it will be a challenge, especially since they have not faced off against one another since 2009.

“We have not seen a lot of [UIC] on film, but we will start that process tomorrow,” he said. “As long as we are continuing to get better in-conference and against these better opponents, then I’ll be satisfied with where we are. We didn’t get better tonight, and that has to be our goal for the rest of the season.”

Robert Morris will next return home on February 22-23 to host Wright State.