Volleyball Falls to St. Louis, Dayton, A-10 Berth Awaits vs URI


Maddy Walsh had 11 digs and assisted on 24 balls against St. Louis (Julia Comerford/The Fordham Ram).

Maddy Walsh had 11 digs and assisted on 24 balls against St. Louis (Julia Comerford/The Fordham Ram).

By Tom Terzulli 

This past weekend, Fordham Volleyball had to face two opponents with a combined conference record of 16-5 on the road, and even though it could not upend St. Louis or Dayton, it proved that no opponent is too great.

“When we’re in system, passing well and are strong defensively we can hang with any team in the conference,” Fordham head coach Gini Ullery-Shrift said. “This team has shown a lot of grind, a lot of hard work and a lot of improvements. I’m proud of what we’ve been doing.”

Compete they did, taking a set from both the Billikens and Flyers. It was the opening stanza against St. Louis, 25-21. The Rams had not led since they were up 7-6 early, before they rattled off four straight points to take a 21-20 advantage. After Sien Gallop tied it, sophomore Olivia Fairchild scored the final four points on a kill and three service aces.

The Rams were flat for the next three sets, shooting just .082 compared to .316 for the Billikens, falling 25-14, 25-16, 25-17.

Fairchild’s four aces brought her up to a career-high 60 on the year, the sixth most ever by a Ram in a single season. She is also sixth all-time with 117 in her career; Mele Misi (‘03) is next with 129. The Phoenix, Arizona native’s 13 kills were also good for team-best.

Senior Molly Oshinski followed with a season-high eight kills and freshman Mckenna Lahr, who also had eight kills, set a season mark with 18 digs. Junior Maddy Walsh was next with 11 digs, along with 24 assists. Sophomore Morgan Williams dug out 10 balls.

In the first frame against Dayton, the Rams found out why the efficient Flyers have just one loss in conference. The visitors registered 13 kills at a .464 clip, while the Rams had the same number with seven errors, lowering their percentage to .171.

“We simply had more hitting errors than our opponents,” Ullery-Shrift said. “It’s about being smarter, seeing the block in front of us, making our adjustments quicker. It’s small things like that. We’ve shown a lot of growth in that throughout the year. But, in these big matches we have to make sure we are taking care of it even more.”

The Flyers flipped the script in the second set and had eight errors compared to the Rams’ seven, allowing Fordham to win 25-18. Fairchild, Lahr and Oshinski combined for 14 kills.

After the long break, Dayton went back to its efficient ways, hitting .577 and .308 in the next two stanzas, coasting to 25-9 and 25-12 victories.

Fairchild and Lahr each had double-doubles, the sophomore with 15 kills and 11 digs, the freshman with 12 and 11. The former rounded out her line with an ace and three assists. Oshinski wrapped up a solid weekend with eight kills. Lahr and senior Nicole Freely shared the blocks lead with two apiece. Williams’ 16 digs were a team best.

At 12-14, 4-9 in the A-10, the Rams are below .500 for the first time this season. On Friday Nov. 10 they face Rhode Island (10-15, 5-8) with the sixth and final A-10 tournament spot hanging in the balance.

“We have to go out, compete and be our best selves,” Ullery-Shrift said. “We’re hoping to have everything kinda come full circle. The girls know the expectation, they know what’s on the line. We’ve shown all year that we deserve to be in the tournament, now here’s our chance to finish it off.”

The match is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Ryan Center in Kingston, R.I.