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Volleyball stays unbeaten at 9-0

By Mike Bauman
On September 14, 2009

The Rockets improved their season record to 9-0 after defeating Liberty, Louisville and Tennessee Tech to win the Cardinal Classic held in Louisville, Ky. this past weekend. The tournament victory is Toledo's third straight under first-year head coach Greg Smith.

"This was definitely the toughest tournament we've played in so far, and it was great to see that we have the ability to raise our level of play," Smith said. "We faced three different types of teams and we had to make adjustments for each of them. This can be a great stepping stone for us, but we need to continue to push to get better."

Freshman outside hitter Sondra Parys was the tournament MVP, leading the Rockets in kills in each match. Parys had a team-leading 18 kills in Toledo's 3-1 (25-18, 25-16, 21-25, 25-23) victory in the finale against Tennessee Tech on Saturday.

Sophomore OH Amber DeWeerdt and senior middle blocker Sarah Wilson also played well for Toledo, earning all-tournament team honors with Parys. DeWeerdt had 18 kills against Louisville on Saturday before recording another 17 against Tennessee Tech later that evening. Wilson led Toledo with a .425 attack percentage.

In the Rockets' 3-1 finale victory over the Golden Eagles Saturday evening, Toledo posted an impressive .448 attack mark and built a 15-9 advantage over Tennessee Tech in the first set of the match, never relinquishing the lead from that point as they went on to win the set 25-18.

The Rockets never trailed in the second set en route to their 25-16 win, but struggled early in the third set of the match as the Golden Eagles jumped out to a 10-6 lead. Tennessee Tech went on to win the set 25-21 as Toledo posted a mere .100 hitting percentage. In the final set, the Golden Eagles again took an early advantage with a 12-8 lead over Toledo, but a seven-point run later in the set put the Rockets up by three and they went on to win 25-23.

On Saturday morning, Toledo defeated the Louisville Cardinals 3-2 (28-26, 25-27, 25-18, 18-25, 15-8) in the second match of the tournament. The Rockets played well for most of the first set before a Louisville rally tied things up at 24, but two kills from DeWeerdt put the Cardinals away as Toledo took first victory of the match.

In the second set, the Rockets held the advantage early with an 11-6 lead, but Louisville would again battle back to go up 20-19 on four straight points. Toledo never recovered as the Cardinals evened the match with a 27-25 victory. The Rockets came back strong in the third set, going on an 8-3 run that put them up 19-11 en route to a 25-18 win.

A 10-1 run from Louisville in the fourth set put them up 19-13 en route to their own 25-18 victory. In the final set, Toledo was down 6-4 before six-straight points from freshman defensive specialist McCall Paynter fueled the Rockets to a 10-6 lead. Toledo never looked back, winning the set and the match over the Cardinals.

On Friday, UT swept the Liberty 3-0 (25-21, 25-21, 25-23) in a well-rounded team effort to start the weekend. Parys had a .409 attack percentage and a team-high 13 kills, while sophomore libero Jessica Dhoore anchored the Rockets' defense with nine digs. Wilson and junior OH Margot Joniec also played well, posting .545 and .462 hitting percentages against the Flames, respectively.

The Rockets will be in action again next Friday and Saturday for the SLU Billiken Invitational in St. Louis, Mo.

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