Volleyball: Dayton Flyers start A-10 play on Friday

Coach Tim Horsmon describes his Dayton Flyers volleyball program as a team in flux as it moves into Atlantic 10 Conference play.

“We’re still learning what we have to be better at,” Horsmon said Tuesday at the Cronin Center. “We’re still kind of growing. There’s still a maturity level we have to get to if we want to play consistently at a high level. I think we’ve shown we can play at a high level. When we get pushed, can we jump into that and hold that level for a whole match or a whole weekend? Our good’s really good. Our basement’s too low for us.”

The Flyers, who play their A-10 opener at Saint Louis at 6 p.m. Friday, are 7-6. They have two victories that will look good on a NCAA tournament resume. They beat then No. 14 Michigan 3-2 on Sept. 7 and Illinois State 3-2 on Saturday. Both of those teams ranked in the top 30 of the RPI last season. The first 2019 RPI ratings have not been released.

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If Dayton had pulled off an upset of No. 12 Florida in a match it lost 3-2 on Aug. 31, Horsmon would feel better about its NCAA tournament at-large chances, but he’s said UD still has a chance if it doesn’t win the A-10 tournament. The Flyers’ fate depends on how well the teams it beat do.

“If we go on a nice winning streak here, that would help us,” Horsmon said. “It’s going to be close.”

Dayton’s top player in the non-conference schedule has been redshirt sophomore Jamie Peterson, who was named A-10 Player of the Week on Monday. Peterson, an outside hitter from West Liberty-Salem High School, leads the team and ranks second in the conference with 4.25 kills per set.

“She has the ability to do a lot of things for us, and she’s being asked to do that,” Horsmon said. “Being a six rotation outside hitter, she’s passing. This weekend, she was one of the best blockers in the gym, and that really helped us win the Illinois State match. She blocked. She obviously can score points for us. She went on a great serving run against Michigan and gave us a chance to win that.”

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Peterson also understands, Horsmon said, that she has to be even better in some matches. After a 3-1 loss to Ohio State on Sept. 20, Peterson was the first one to raise her hand and take responsibility for the defeat. She wasn’t the only one.

“We have a lot of really good kids in our program who understand that,” Horsmon said. “They’re not running from it.”

While Dayton was picked to win the A-10 in the preseason poll, Horsmon expects it to be a competitive league race.

“VCU took a set from BYU, and BYU just beat Stanford,” Horsmon said. “They beat a good Alabama team. They have a bunch of transfers who are really athletic. La Salle is having a good pre-conference. Duquesne looks improved. Saint Louis is a much better team as well. I think the league in general is probably on the uptick.”

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