Volleyball Bounces Back at Rebel Challenge


Volleyball won back-to-back game in Las Vegas at the Rebel Challenge (Courtesy of Julia Comerford/The Fordham Ram).

By Emmanuel Berbari

Volleyball won back-to-back game in Las Vegas at the Rebel Challenge (Courtesy of Julia Comerford/The Fordham Ram).

A slow start to the season, culminating with an undesirable two-out-of-three loss outcome in the Rose Hill Classic, left much to be desired for first-year head coach Ian Choi’s squad.

After being outplayed by UNLV on Day 1 of the Rebel Challenge in Las Vegas, his group needed a quick turnaround ahead of the Battle of the Big Apple and the start of A-10 play.

The team leaders answered the call.

“The Rebel Challenge was a great learning experience and provided validation to our methods and culture here at Fordham,” said Choi.

Junior Kaitlyn Morley delivered 18 kills, sophomore McKenna Lahr registered 15 and junor Morgan Williams led the way with 14 digs in a tight five-set win over Eastern Kentucky.

“After a flight delay at JFK, the squad had to compete twice on Friday operating only on three hours of sleep,” said Choi. “Their attitudes and work ethic during the entire tournament set the landscape for our ultimate success at this tournament.”
Not too shabby for some under-caffeinated college athletes, but a much-needed lift for a team searching for its identity.
The momentum carried into Saturday, when the Rams met and erased Cal State Fullerton in three sets.

Lahr’s 12 kills, freshman Makaela Tanaka’s 32 assists and Williams’ 12 digs provided the spark in an important swing game.
“The goal is to maintain the course of our development,” said Choi. “An acknowledgement that a successful previous weekend, offers only a moment of emotional respite for our previous efforts and a corresponding willingness to embrace the incessant discomfort of growth and change required to compete at a high level in Division I volleyball.”

The Rams hope the two victories lead to a collective stride forward.

While Morley and Lahr have combined for 209 kills, Tanaka has anchored the efforts in her first season, contributing 8.21 assists per set and proving to be an asset in the early stages.

“Our out of system game has improved considerably and significantly contributed to our record-setting hitting efficiency versus Cal State Fullerton last weekend,” said Choi.

With that said, racking up any wins is gravy at this point of the season.

Conference play is still 12 days out, and Fordham is already within a game of .500 and beginning to develop chemistry.
A matchup with Manhattan this week will pave the way for that tournament with three local foes in Columbia, St. Francis Brooklyn, and Dartmouth. Following the four clashes, the moments start to matter.

“For our development, it’s critical to not only prioritize winning during our matches, especially during pre-conference,” said Choi. “We have a young squad this year, so a portion of our focus has to be allocated for learning also. Learning how to deal with the inherent stress of the match with its ebbs and flows, learning how to make defensive and offensive adjustments at a moment’s notice, and learning how to support your teammates unconditionally.”