Dayton ready for NCAA volleyball tournament after 11-day break

Dayton celebrates after winning the Atlantic 10 Conference volleyball tournament championship on Sunday, Nov. 21, 2021, at the UMPC Cooper Fieldhouse in Pittsburgh, Pa. Photo courtesy of Dayton Athletics

caption arrowCaption
Dayton celebrates after winning the Atlantic 10 Conference volleyball tournament championship on Sunday, Nov. 21, 2021, at the UMPC Cooper Fieldhouse in Pittsburgh, Pa. Photo courtesy of Dayton Athletics

Flyers will play Marquette in first round for second time in three years

The Dayton Flyers volleyball team is used to getting a break between the Atlantic 10 Conference tournament and the NCAA tournament. This year, coach Tim Horsmon approached the 11-day stretch a bit differently.

“Typically, we’ve had a couple days before Thanksgiving that didn’t always go the way I probably would have liked,” Horsmon said. “There are a lot of conferences that are still playing through Thanksgiving weekend, and we’re not. We tried to change it up a little bit. We really went to more competitive drills, and I think that helped. We kicked it into another gear when they got back Saturday as well. So we didn’t have a whole lot of downtime, which I think served us well.”

Dayton (25-5) watched the NCAA tournament selection show on Sunday night at Horsmon’s house and learned it will play Marquette (26-5) in the first round at 4:30 p.m. Thursday in West Lafayette, Ind. The Flyers left for Indiana on Tuesday.

Dayton or Marquette will play No. 6 seed Purdue (23-6), the regional host, or Illinois State (19-13) in the second round at 5 p.m. Friday. Those teams play at 7 p.m. Thursday in the other first-round match at Holloway Gymnasium.

Dayton leads the series against Marquette 21-8, though Marquette has won the last three matches and beat Dayton 25-23, 25-19, 25-22 in the 2019 NCAA tournament. That match also took place at Purdue.

Explore» ARCHDEACON: Beavercreek coach has ‘a lot to be thankful for’

Marquette lost 3-1 to Purdue in the second round after losing to Dayton two years ago. It finished 10-4 last season and did not make the NCAA tournament. Marquette ranks 16th in the RPI. Dayton ranks 40th.

Dayton and Marquette have a number of common opponents. They both beat Illinois State 3-0. They both lost 3-0 to Wisconsin and 3-0 to Kentucky, though Dayton lost two 3-0 matches to the Badgers. Marquette beat Wright State 3-2, while Dayton lost 3-2 to Wright State. Marquette beat Xavier 3-1, and Dayton beat Xavier 3-0.

“They’ve been traditionally a really good team,” Horsmon said. “They were probably really close to being one of the top 16 seeds. They’re really well coached. They don’t give you a lot of free points. They have really good players. They’re going to a really really good match for us, and we’re going to have to play well to beat them.”

This will be Dayton’s second NCAA tournament experience of the calendar year. It beat Towson in straight sets in the first round in the spring before losing in five sets to Washington, falling short of its first trip to the third round.

Dayton earned a tournament berth by beating Fordham in straight sets in the Atlantic 10 Conference tournament championship on Nov. 21. The Flyers had to survive an upset attempt by Duquesne, which won the first two sets in the semifinals before Dayton rallied to win the final three.

“I don’t know if we were overlooking that match,” Horsmon said, “or if we just weren’t ready to play that day, but Duquesne played a great match and was probably through most of that match the better team. It was great to slide out of that. We recovered a little bit the next day in the final. We’ve been kind of going through that all year. We’re still making some mistakes that if we’re going to be a really good team we can’t make. We’ve got figure that out. We left some some openings against Duquesne in that semifinal match you can’t leave in championship-type matches. I’m hoping we’re better this week.”

About the Author