PREVIEW: Volleyball returns home to face IUPUI after first win of season

Volleyball+looks+to+start+a+win+streak+when+they+host+winless+IUPUI.+Photo+Credit%3A+Tyler+Gallo

Volleyball looks to start a win streak when they host winless IUPUI. Photo Credit: Tyler Gallo

By Austin Bechtold, Assistant Sports Editor

MOON TOWNSHIP– After winning their first-ever Horizon League match on Tuesday on the road against Youngstown State, Robert Morris volleyball is looking to start their first winning streak in their last homestand of the season.

The Colonials (1-11, 1-11 Horizon) will face an even more dire conference opponent in winless IUPUI (0-8, 0-8) at the UPMC Events Center this week. RMU is 1-2 all-time against the Jaguars, with the last matchup coming on September 10, 2011, in a 3-0 IUPUI victory. The two sides will square off Monday at 6 p.m. with the rematch set for Tuesday at 5 p.m.

Recapping Robert Morris

RMU finally earned one for the record books on March 9 in defeating the YSU Penguins (3-7, 3-7) in game two of the season series.

After battling back from a 2-1 deficit, the Colonials faced a deciding five set on Monday, March 8 but couldn’t muster up enough momentum and firepower to melt the Penguins back into the loss column. Robert Morris fell 15-25, 25-23, 22-25, 25-21, and 11-15 on the road in Youngstown, with Abby Ryan leading the Colonials with 12 kills and Emma Granger continuing her dominant serving with four aces.

Robert Morris got over the hump the following day, sweeping the match with 25-21, 25-10, and 25-20 finishes. The Colonials dominated the second set with a very efficient 44.8 percent kills-to-attack ratio. Alyson Londot guided RMU with 10 kills, while Alyssa Hudak and Abby Ryan recorded nine and eight kills, respectively, to propel the Colonials from the bottom of the conference standings in anticipation of the team directly below them.

RMU needs to continue to attack the ball at a quicker speed and run a more fluid offense, taking advantage of anticipated Jaguar mistakes. The Colonials will honor their Maria Alfano, Whitney Brown, Skylar Clements, Mirna Sarjanovic, and Erika Wilt on Tuesday as a part of senior night festivities taking place before the match, with Alyson Londot and Emma Granger set to return for a fifth season of eligibility granted by the NCAA due to the changes presented by the pandemic.

Scouting IUPUI

IUPUI has had a lackluster spring season, dropping all eight Horizon League matches they appeared in. After a 7-22 season that saw the Jaguars only win three of 16 matches in 2019, flipping the calendar twice to 2021 has not solved any issues.

The Jaguars are an even 0-4 at home and on the road, losing their last series to conference-leading Wright State (12-1, 12-0) as IUPUI was swept in both matches. The Raiders dominated the series despite being on the road, proving a tough test for an already under-matched Jaguars team.

Before their seventh and eight-straight losses, the program was off for nearly a month with series against Milwaukee from February 15-16 and Northern Kentucky on February 22-23 being canceled.

Players to Watch

Emma Granger (RMU) – Granger, the 2019 NEC Player of the Year, started to look like her usual self against the Penguins with 15 total kills in the two matches. Her serving stood apart from the rest, as her power and arm strength were on full display in match one, despite five total errors to go along with four aces. Granger needs to continue to regain strength in her ankle for the rest of the season and also in anticipation of the fall season as well.

Abby Ryan (RMU) – Only a freshman, Ryan has carried her own for RMU in the front row. She leads the team with 103 kills from the outside with a 2.64 kills-per-set average. Ryan needs to continue to grow into a more consistent player and eliminate some of her attacking errors, leading the program with 69 on the season.

Allie Pogue (IUPUI) – Pogue has guided the Jaguar offense this spring with a team-high 72 kills, also garnishing 2.91 points-per-set. The sophomore outside hitter will look for her best match of the season to help IUPUI win their first matchup this season.

Darragh Dixon (IUPUI) – Sophomore setter Darragh Dixon leads IUPUI with 227 assists as the team’s primary setter. Dixon will look to join Pogue, as the sophomore duo must combine their forces for the Jaguars to have a chance to conquer the Colonials’ home court.

Prediction

After convincingly defeating Youngstown State in the much tougher second game of the back-to-back to win, Robert Morris will begin their first winning streak of the year with two dominating matches against IUPUI.

The Colonials will take down the Jaguars 3-1 on Monday and 3-0 on Tuesday to move to 3-11 on the season.