VCU defeated Atlantic 10 tournament host and No. 3 seed George Washington University 3-0 in the semifinals round on Saturday to earn a spot in the A-10 championship match. This will be VCU’s fifth trip to a conference championship match in nine seasons.
The No. 2 seeded Lady Rams swept the Colonials using a combination of stifling defensive pressure and offensive firepower that has been capitalized on all season.
In an unpredictable first set that included four lead changes and 14 ties, VCU used a 9-1 run to take a 16-9 advantage. After the Colonials made a push toward set point at 25-24, VCU held off the comeback and regained the set thanks to two of their 13.5 blocks and a Colonials service error. VCU claimed the first set 27-25.
After the Colonials went up 3-0 in the second set, VCU scored 10 points in a row and cruised to a 25-19 win . The third and final set was all VCU as they rolled the Colonials 25-18 and earned a trip to the A-10 championship match.
Head coach Jody Rogers said she was very pleased with the performance and thinks the results came from her decision to increase the intensity for her team in the week leading up to the tournament.
“This started at practice this week.” Rogers told VCU Athletics after the match. “I applied pressure. We were aggressive in practice. Not only just skill-wise, but me, verbally as a coach, had to get really into them, and they responded great.”
Junior Janelle Sykes registered seven kills and seven blocks, putting her at 168 blocks on the season, which brings her within five blocks of the school’s single-season record of 172.
Junior libero Amanda Love led the defense on the back line with 23 digs, recording half of the entire team’s 46 digs in the match. Love’s efforts throughout the entire season did not go unnoticed as she received the A-10 libero of the year award for the 2013 season.
Sophomore outside hitter Romana Kriskova earned A-10 conference player of the year as well. Kriskova fired off nine kills and showed her talents on the defensive side, too. She collected eight digs on the night for the Rams.
On Sunday, The Lady Rams faced No. 1 seed Duquesne University at 1 p.m. at the Charles E. Smith Center in Washington, D.C. for the A-10 championship match. A result was not final as of press time, but the Lady Rams and Lady Dukes split the season series at one match apiece, each spoiling the home court advantage of the other.
Duquesne defeated VCU 3-1 in the last match of the regular season, handing the Lady Rams their first home loss of the year. The Lady Dukes’ Nov. 15 win at VCU also gave Duquesne the A-10 regular season championship. The Lady Rams finished the season in second place.
Rogers says her team was much more prepared for the Lady Dukes this time around.
“They worked hard for this. This is all them, and tomorrow is going to be another one for all them,“ Rogers told VCU Athletics. “I know that Duquesne is a very good team. If we come in and do the things we do well, we should be really successful tomorrow.”