PREVIEW: Volleyball looks to end losing streak at Cleveland State

Volleyball+looks+to+snap+their+losing+skid+at+Cleveland+State.+Photo+Credit%3A+Tyler+Gallo

Volleyball looks to snap their losing skid at Cleveland State. Photo Credit: Tyler Gallo

By Austin Bechtold, Assistant Sports Editor

CLEVELAND– The Horizon League has not been kind to the last place Robert Morris Colonials, but RMU looks to change their fortunes against the Cleveland State Vikings for a two-match set to begin March.

The Colonials (0-8, 0-8 Horizon) will look to win their first match against a Vikings team (5-5, 5-5) in the middle-of-the-pack in the conference standings. Robert Morris is 0-4 against Cleveland State since 2006, only taking one of 13 sets with the last meeting coming in Toledo on September 18, 2015, in the Blue/Gold Invitational.

Recapping Robert Morris

The Colonials have missed senior middle blocker and 2019 NEC Player of the Year Emma Granger so far this season, lacking a true star to put the ball away and earn key points to take and maintain control of each set. Fellow middle Maria Alfano has stepped up in her absence, returning from injury after missing the Oakland series at the beginning of the 2021 spring season.

Alyssa Hudak and Abby Ryan have been dynamite for the Colonials offense, tied with the team lead in kills with 66 apiece. With the emergence of Ryan and the return of Alyson Londot to the lineup after missing all but two sets of the 2019 season, Hudak has transitioned into a threat on the ride side for a currently average RMU offensive attack.

Robert Morris is coming off of being swept by Horizon League standings leader Wright State (8-1, 8-0) and was the first team to take the second set of any match against the Raiders all season. The Colonials fell 3-1 in match one on Monday after keeping it close throughout the night, with Tuesday’s rematch less favorable for RMU, dropping the match 3-0. Wright State’s quick and dynamic offense played a role in The Colonials’ failure to secure their first win but secured a few positives to take with them back on the road this week

Blocking and defense in the back row have been inconsistent for Robert Morris and will be a key factor in determining a winner in Cleveland, with RMU looking to crawl out of the basement in their first season in the conference, with IUPUI also struggling at 0-6.

Scouting Cleveland State

The Cleveland State Vikings will host their third home series of the season in the Woodling Gymnasium after splitting against conference newcomer Purdue Fort Wayne in Indiana, taking the first match 3-1 and dropping the second by the same score.

The Vikings have had an average season on the stat sheet in terms of wins and losses. With a 2-2 record at home and a 3-3 mark on the road, Cleveland State will look to take care of business and crack the code to getting over the hump of an above .500 home and overall record against a struggling Colonials bunch.

Cleveland State holds an overall 21.2 hitting percentage with just over 12 kills being registered per set. The Vikings will not leave the state of Ohio for the remainder of the regular season with only two weeks remaining after hosting Robert Morris.

Players to Watch

Alyssa Hudak (RMU) – Hudak has performed well on the right side for head coach Dale Starr’s reshuffled front row. The junior from Medina, Ohio has played in all but one of 28 sets for the Colonials this season, registering 2.44 kills-per-set, good for third on the team. Hudak needs to continue to improve her game in her new position after not playing there consistently during her career at RMU.

Alyson Londot (RMU) – The senior outside hitter has been a solid contributor for Robert Morris since returning from a serious knee injury in last season’s opener. Londot’s 55 kills is the third most for RMU and will need to build off of her 199 total attacks for the Colonials to pull one out in Cleveland.

Hannah Greene (CSU) – Greene has been a force in the middle of the court for the Vikings, leading the team with 113 kills and a 28.9 total-attack percentage. She is Cleveland State’s best offensive weapon and is their go-to force late in sets. Her 3.14 kills-per-set also leads the team and will look to light up the Colonials’ inconsistent defense to propel her program above .500.

Abby Miller (CSU) – A freshman setter from North Allegheny High School, also the alma mater of Colonials sophomore junior defensive specialist Allena Carmody, Miller has stepped into the starting lineup and has been strong for the Vikings. She has recorded 341 assists and 74 digs, appearing in all 36 Cleveland State sets this season. Look for Miller to continue her successful start to her collegiate career this series.

Prediction

If Robert Morris is going to win a match against the Vikings, it’s going to be the first one. I think the Colonials are desperate for a win and will dig in for their first Horizon League victory, coming on the road against another unfamiliar opponent as well by a 3-2 five-set thriller.

Match two on Tuesday will not play out as well as RMU may like after winning on Monday, dropping the series finale 3-1.

Monday’s matchup will begin at 6 p.m. with the first serve in Tuesday’s rematch scheduled for 5 p.m. to begin March and the final few weeks of the regular season.