Those are the first of 10 Atlantic 10 Conference matches. The league will split into two divisions for the 2021 season with Dayton playing schools in its geographic area: Saint Louis; Duquesne; Davidson; and Virginia Commonwealth.
The top two teams in each division will advance to the A-10 tournament, which will be held April 2-3 on the campus of the highest seed. The conference champion will earn an automatic berth into the NCAA tournament, which will have 48 teams instead of 64. Dayton has played in the NCAA tournament five times in the last six seasons and 14 times since 2003, and it hopes to get there again.
The Flyers were named the preseason favorite in the A-10 last week, receiving eight of the 10 first-place votes with Virginia Commonwealth receiving the other two.
The Flyers finished 22-9 and 13-1 in the A-10 in 2019 and return Jamie Peterson, the 2019 Atlantic 10 Player of the Year, and Amelia Moore, the A-10 Rookie of the Year.
“If we get healthy and can stay healthy, I think we have a lot of good players in the gym,” Horsmon said. “Amelia Moore, our 6-5 middle, had a great year last year. Jamie Peterson has the ability to be an All- American again this year. (Libero) Maura Collins is playing really, really well, at an elite level. Bridget Doherty is playing really well in the setter position. We have a lot of great returners. We have some really highly-touted incoming freshmen. It’s been a fun mix so far.”
Dayton did get some work done in the fall. It held practices outside at times because of the COVID-19 situation and focused on individual skills in small groups.
“I think we got better,” Horsmon said. “I think our kids were great during that time. They understood what we were up against and the challenges of it. But we didn’t get to play (matches), and I’m sure they’re missing that part. If you’re going to get better at playing volleyball, you have to play volleyball.”