It was Senior Day for the Dukes on Sunday against Elon. Emotions were riding high for JMU as five seniors — outside hitter Bryn Recker, setters Amy Gottschling and Tilbe Yaglioglu, middle blocker Taylor Gail and defensive specialist/libero Jacqui Koebel — played their last game at Godwin Hall. The Dukes used that emotion as momentum on the way to a sweep of the Phoenix 25-18, 25-20, 25-20.
The Dukes had a strong defensive performance on the day. JMU was flying to the ball and playing the net tight with 10 blocks, including six blocks in the first set. The defensive impact set the tone for the match as the Dukes never looked back after the first set.
Head coach Lauren Steinbrecher was elated over how her team performed on the defensive side of the ball. Steinbrecher was especially proud with the effort on the front line of the defense.
“That was something that we worked on [Saturday] after our William & Mary game is getting good block setups, especially on the outside,” Steinbrecher said. “For Kelly [Vahos] and [Sarah] Martin to come in and get some great stops was huge.”
Junior middle blocker M’Kaela White led the team with five blocks throughout the match. White liked how the team played defensively.
“With it being the seniors’ last home game and Elon being good competition, we wanted to go out there … and do what we know we can do, and do it to the best of our abilities,” White said.
The impact of these seniors has been huge for the program for the last four years on and off the court. Junior libero Sarah Driscoll wanted to perform well for her senior teammates.
“These seniors have given so much to our program,” Driscoll said. “They have been our family on and off the court and since it was their last time playing here, we really wanted to win for them, as we switch our lineup at the beginning so all of the seniors can start and we did a really good job performing well with them in.”
White felt that this senior class was the catalyst for her growth through the years. These seniors have taught her well ever since she has arrived at JMU.
“I think our seniors has been my most influential class,” White said. “They were sophomores when I was a freshman, and they were my first smiling faces here at JMU. So these girls are like sisters to me, and every pass, every hit, every ball over the net and every block was for them.”
Recker and junior outside hitter Vahos led the Dukes on the day in kills with 11. Driscoll had 17 digs on the day in the back end of the defense. Elon was led by senior outside hitter Kam Terry with 11 kills and senior libero Maddie Jaudon with 14 digs.
With the win, the Dukes move to 20-5 (12-2 CAA), and will travel to Towson and Delaware to finish the regular season. JMU will play Towson on Wednesday.
Contact Brandon Ellis firstname.lastname@example.org For more volleyball coverage, follow the sports desk on Twitter @TheBreezeSports.