Winning Streak Propels Volleyball To A-10s

The ‘Cats are in a prime position to both make to and make a difference in the A-10 tournament following the hot end to the regular season. Photo by Sacha Franks ‘20

Jonathan Swann ‘19

Sports writer

Stuck at LaGuardia Airport on Thursday, October 18th, Davidson’s volleyball team waited for the bus, which had a flat tire, to pick them up for their game against Fordham. The unfortunate opportunity, however, brought enjoyable, unexpected team bonding off the court. But with the Atlantic 10 tournament only three games away, the volleyball team is looking to create memories that will resonate far more than just through an unsatisfactory travel experience. Currently, the team has a 12-10 record (5-6 in the A-10), punctuated by a five-game winning streak that was snapped by St. Louis last Friday, and the team is looking to finish the season strong.

The winning streak, the team’s longest since 2004, was marked by several conference and national awards, including National Team of the Week by PrepVolleyball.com, Runner-Up for Player of the Week (Non-Power 5) by PrepVolleyball.com for Mason Rooney ‘19, and A-10 Player of the Week for Ciera Cockrell ’19.  Additionally, the team swept a weekend of A-10 road games for the first time ever.

During the streak, which started on the road against non-conference foe NC Central and was then followed by 4 straight wins versus A-10 opponents, the team was dominant, with only the last game against Rhode Island going to five sets.

Many players contributed to the team’s uninterrupted success. Rooney led the way, but Cockrell, Hattie Rodriguez ’22, Katharine Franz ’19, and Ellie Crosley ’21, among others, played major roles as well.

Cockrell noted that “from the start of preseason, we knew we had a great team.” It came down to “the upperclassmen setting the tone” and “the freshmen buying in” that fueled the recent win streak.

Head Coach Chris Willis, who is currently in his eighth year of coaching the Wildcats, also points to the leadership of the upperclassmen as a reason for the team’s success. He explained that the senior class (Rooney, Cockrell, Franz, and Sam Thompson) have experienced the rigors of the A10 and “know how to prepare and compete against the various teams” in the conference.

Rooney and Cockrell have over 200 kills on the season, with Rodriguez, Franz, and Crosley  adding over 100 each. Rooney leads the nation in triple-doubles (kills, assists, and digs) with five. Only one other A-10 player has more than two. She has 26 aces and over 300 assists on the season, both tops on the team.

Josie Treadwell ’20 anchors the defense for the team, with over 350 digs this season and an average of over four per set. Elise Edman ’20 and Sydney Champaigne ’21 also are defensive stalwarts for the Wildcats. The strong defense has helped the Wildcats win all three games this season that have gone to five sets.

The team is hoping to make the A-10 tournament after losing in the first round in 2016. Six teams out of ten make it to the tournament, and Davidson sits in sixth place after Duquesne moved up in the standings after their win against Fordham on Sunday. Dayton is currently in second place in the conference standings, while St. Louis is in the middle of the pack but has matched up well against Davidson. A sixth seed may actually be more favorable for the ‘Cats as any higher puts them in VCU’s path in the tournament, who is undefeated in conference play this season.

The Wildcats travel north to play George Mason and George Washington this weekend, before traveling to Richmond to play VCU on November 10th, with the goal of clinching a spot in the A-10 tournament. During the win streak, the Wildcats beat both “Georges” at home, and are looking to repeat the results away from Belk Arena.

Coach Willis, when asked to sum up his advice for the team as they finish the season, offered this: “continue to strive to be the best at getting better.” Cockrell echoed that thought, stating that while the “streak [was] fun, we know is still a lot of work to be done in accomplishing our season goal of winning the A-10 tournament.”

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