The Toledo women’s volleyball team traveled to Huntington, West Virginia Sept. 8 for the Thunder Invitational. The Rockets finished in second place, losing their first game to Maryland before defeating Marshall and falling to Virginia Tech on the final day.
Third-year libero Maurissa Leonard was named to all-tournament team, recording 72 digs in the tournament. UT now stands at 3-6 on the season.
“Extremely proud of the team and how the team battled this weekend,” said head coach Greg Smith. “We battled well with a tough Maryland team to five sets and then had to come back Saturday and fight back to win a tough five-setter against Marshall. Against Virginia Tech, we just ran out of gas and not taking anything away from VT because they are a great team, but we just didn’t have anything left in the tank.”
It took Maryland all five sets to defeat the Rockets in their first match. Thomas led the way on offense with 15 kills, and first-year Emma Swope added 14 kills. Fourth-year Brianna Foster tallied 41 assists and 10 digs.
Maryland did not get their first lead until the second set.
After taking the lead, they went on a 12-3 run to take a 10-point lead. They eventually stretched that margin to 21-9 behind a .345 attack percentage. They won the set 25-13 to tie the game at a set apiece.
Both teams battled early in the third set. Toledo eventually took four straight points to take control. After a timeout, Maryland tied it up; UT then won 14 of the last 18 points to win the set 25-16.
The Terrapins never trailed in the fourth, attempting to force a final set by taking an early 6-1 lead. The Rockets battled back to score seven straight to make it 18-15. Toledo was as close as 23-22, but Maryland won the final two points to force a fifth and final set.
Maryland won the first three points of the set and never surrendered the lead. The Rockets used back-to-back kills to tie the game at 12 before Maryland won the final three points to win the match 3-2 and remain undefeated this season.
Against Marshall, Toledo’s offense was led by Thomas with 15 kills. Leonard anchored the defense, recording 40 digs. The Rockets fell behind, losing the first two sets, but made a remarkable comeback.
UT was handled easily in the first set, 25-15. They got their footing underneath them in the second set but still seemed out of sorts and lost 25-21.
However they completely controlled the third set, leading the entire time. Marshall cut the margin to one point four different times but could not take the lead. 20-19 was the closest they got before UT shut the door and forced another set.
Once again, Toledo was impressive in the fourth set, holding Marshall to a .025 attack percentage. Several errors by the Rockets kept the set close, but they won the set 25-23 to force a fifth and final set.
The fifth set was one for the ages, as the teams ended up tied at 15. The teams continued to go back and forth, with the Rockets having eight separate chances to win the game. An offensive kill followed by a service spelled victory for UT in a hard-fought game.
“Overall, I loved seeing the resolve and the competitiveness in our two matches on Saturday against Marshall and Virginia Tech” said Coach Smith.
The final game of the weekend was against Virginia Tech. Fourth-year Rachel Vidourek led UT with 15 kills and, as a team, they recorded ten blocks.
The teams were even early on, tied at seven. The Hokies scored three of the next four points to take an early 11-8 lead. The Rockets were as close as one, but Virginia Tech took control after scoring six points in a row. They won the set 25-17.
The Rockets were in control of the second set after winning seven of the first 10 points. The Hokies made a run that was halted by block by two Rockets, putting them ahead 24-21. UT took the second set to tie the match at one.
The third set went back and forth. Virginia Tech was able to take over late in the set with four straight points. They scored five of the last seven points to win the set, putting pressure on Toledo to win the fourth set.
However, the fourth set was controlled by the Hokies from beginning to end. They recorded a .333 attack percentage. The Rockets took a 7-6 lead early but faded quickly.
Virginia Tech scored five straight points following a timeout to put themselves in the driver’s seat, and they did not give it back. They scored six straight to win the match and handed Toledo their sixth loss of the season.
The women will return to Savage Arena on Friday, Sept. 15 for a doubleheader against New Mexico University and Youngstown State. First serve is set for 10 a.m.