Colonials fall late vs Purdue Fort Wayne; losing streak stretches to three

Annie+Monaco%2C+Allena+Carmody%2C+Nikolette+Zanolli%2C+Emma+Granger%2C+Megan+Cannon+and+Ally+Christman+celebrate+a+point.

Photo by Ty

Annie Monaco, Allena Carmody, Nikolette Zanolli, Emma Granger, Megan Cannon and Ally Christman celebrate a point.

By Michael Deemer, Contributor

MOON TOWNSHIP—The Robert Morris Colonials’ volleyball team (7-8, 0-3 Horizon) have started the Horizon League season with no set victories in two matches. The team returned to the UPMC Events Center Friday to erase last weekend’s struggles as they faced Purdue Fort Wayne (3-15, 1-4 Horizon). Today, the struggles continued.

The Mastodons came out firing off the get-go, going on a 5-1 run to begin the match, and took advantage of the flat-footed Colonials. However, that lead was short-lived, as, after the slow start, the Colonials had a 5-1 run on their own to take a 12-11 lead. After that, neither team held a significant advantage for the rest of the set as the biggest advantage for both teams was 2. After a 23-23 tie, the Colonials would win the set with two unanswered points, including a Nikolette Zanolli ace to finish.

Coach Dale Starr had to say this after the match. “Our effort was better tonight but it wasn’t consistent. So we gotta figure out a way to give consistent effort more often. That’s just all there is to it.”

It was a close second set as well. The Mastodons led for most of the set, but not by a big margin, their biggest being 2 once again. The Colonials had a 4-1 scoring run towards the end of the set to take the lead, 24-23.

There were a total of 18 lead changes and 32 ties in this contest.

In what seemed to be a 2-0 set advantage, Purdue Fort Wayne spoiled it, scoring the last three points to tie things at 1 set apiece.

The beginning of the third set was identical to the first, the Mastodons taking an early 5-1 one, the Colonials coming back immediately, after an Emma Granger service error to tie it, the Mastodons could not be A 13-4 run by the Mastodons was the turning point in the set, winning it 25-21.

“I would rate our effort 75% tonight,” said Starr. “Not good enough until we get that effort to be closer than 100% all the time, we’re gonna see these types of results.”

It was do-or-die for the Colonials in set 4, and they played like it was do-or-die, especially in the middle of it. Being down 14-10, they sparked a 6-1 to take the lead. Based on how this match has been, it was not a surprise to see a comeback. This time, it was a 10-1 run for the Mastodons to win the match.

Sophomore Annie Monaco played limited time in both games last weekend for the Colonials. Tonight, she started and thrived in the losing effort. She tied for the team-high in kills with 13, and second in hitting percentage with .310.

“She’s our first kid off the bench,” Coach Starr praised. “Abby Ryan was struggling a little bit to start the match and we made the switch and Annie did a pretty good job for us. She came in and did what she was supposed to do.”

Another underclassman who performed well individually was freshman Ashleigh Wallin. Unsurprisingly she had almost all of the Colonial assists, but she broke her career-high with 35 of them. Also, she had a career-high in digs with 10, and a block for good measure.

“She’s probably gonna break that a lot. She played a good match,” Coach addressed. “She is a freshman, she made some freshman mistakes. It’s gonna take time. She’s got some growing to do, but I thought she did a good job.”

Another frustrating loss, but some improvement from the previous two games for RMU.

“We gotta play harder for longer. [We have to] sustain our energy, sustain our effort, and don’t give up to 10-1 runs to end the match” Coach Starr joked.

The Colonials attempt to get their first win in conference play and snap this losing streak tomorrow at the UPMC Events Center at 4 p.m. vs IUPUI (2-13, 0-4 Horizon)