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Volleyball Flyby: Don't Overlook the Here and Now. Fordham's Got Talent.
Volleyball Flyby: Don't Overlook the Here and Now. Fordham's Got Talent.
Published by BeckysTXA
Volleyball Flyby: Don't Overlook the Here and Now. Fordham's Got Talent.

In week one of conference play, it didn't take long for the Flyers to return to the top of the A10 standings - before 3 pm last Sunday - after winning two matches in Chicago. In week two, the Flyers host Fordham for the weekend double header Friday and Saturday on Hausfeld Court. The Rams currently sit tied for 5th at 1-1 in the conference, but their overall record is 10-2 for the year.

They are led by Sr. OH Whitley Moody. She was A10 Rookie of the Year her freshman season and has been 1st or 2nd Team A10 the previous three years. She is currently hitting .246 from the left pin. That is a solid number. By comparison, Lexie is hitting .273. Both OHs play all 6 rotations and hit from the backrow.

We heard from Assistant Coach Tim Balice this week who said Moody has improved this season and is more creative and aggressive with her attacks.

“Moody has some great arm speed and range. She does an awesome job within Fordham’s system of scoring and connecting with the setter,” he noted. “This year specifically, she has integrated more inside routes in transition which allow her to have more looks with seams in the block.”

As the Flyer Faithful have witnesses this season, it sure helps when you have more than one go-to hitter in your offense. Fordham has that in Sophomore OH Audrey Brown. She was named to the A10 All-Rookie Team last year and continues to get better.

“Brown is doing a good job producing as a right side (hitter) this year and almost keeping up with Moody in that regard,” Balice said. “Brown’s arm speed is also something that can do some damage to poorly formed blocks.”

Hitting from the right side means Lexie and Taylor along with our two middles will be called on to set solid blocks to contain her. Brown is hitting .292 from the right side which is very good. Our Sophomore right side Liana Sarkissian is hitting .281 by comparison. The Flyers have played a tougher schedule, so both are very solid performances.

Balice did note Brown is getting more swings this season. Together Brown and Moody take about half of Fordham’s swings. So I asked Coach Balice how to defend against two solid hitters.

“When game planning against any high volume, high kill attackers it is important to find ways to make those attackers uncomfortable,” he explained. “That could mean serving them more, putting more blockers in front of them, or simply taking away their favorite shot(s). Both Moody and Brown do a good job of having multiple shots to go to, which will make slowing them down a fun task.”

Fordham landed an outstanding freshman setter this year in 6’1” Whitney Woodrow out of Assumption High School in Kentucky. She was coached by Ron Kordes. Ron is the father of former St Louis Head Coach Anne Kordes whose teams at SLU battled Dayton for championships during Horsmon’s first era at UD and the Sheffield years. Balice coaches the setters for UD, so his opinion of Woodrow is spot on.

“Woodrow is replacing a four-year starter in Megan Brzozowski (from Gilmore Academy in Cleveland) and she is doing a great job so far. Woodrow was a first team All-State setter in Kentucky for an extremely talented Assumption squad. Assumption High School is a perennial Top 10 prep program in the country,” Balice reported. “Coach Kordes has won at least 22 State titles. It is safe to say that the program is a dynasty. Woodrow was also part of some very successful club teams at various age groups at KIVA – also a perennial powerhouse in the club scene.”

Ok, lets add this up. Fordham has two very good OHs that hit from both pins. They have a young, but talented setter. Three solid players. But how is the back row defense and serve receive? Can they deliver the ball to their setter so she has all her hitters in play? Well Fordham is leading the A10 in digs per set and their Libero Mallory Lipski is leading the conference with more than 5 digs per set. But Balice shed some light into the digs stat and what the Flyer will need to do to terminate against Fordham.

“Lipski (also hailing from Louisville, KY) is a legit libero that has always been a high volume dig per set player. Fordham has also, historically, been a high digs per set program,” he stated. “Certain statistics are heavily influenced by other variables outside of the control of the team or players. For instance, teams that have higher blocks, kills and aces per set will generally have less digs per set because the rallies are shorter (with less balls available to dig).”

He also said Lipski plays in the left back position because good floor defensive teams generally make their opponents earn points versus giving away points through errors.

“In regards to Fordham, we will need to make great decisions as attackers depending on the situation,” he continued. “(Our Setter) Alyssa Miller is going to need to create some one-on-one situations against Fordham’s blockers. Once creating those match ups, our attackers need to see the block and attack open space on the court or attack the block itself.”

I’ve also mentioned over the last couple years that I do like Fordham’s coach. He is doing a good job of working to get this program to the next level, which would be to contend for A10 Championships. The conference needs more programs at the next level, and Ian Choi is one of those coaches who appears to have the pedigree to maybe get Fordham there. He played volleyball on a Top 10 men’s team at the University of Texas as a setter. So he is a former player. He got his Masters from San Jose State University. He was the 2013 Coach of the Year in the USAV Junior Volleyball club world. He started his coaching career at the University of Texas with the women’s program. His roster shows his strong recruiting pipelines in TX and CA and he knows KY and OH as noted by his players listed herein.

Fordham is a program on the rise in the conference. But for this weekend, Dayton is still the more talented team. Our most inexperienced hitter, Sarkissian, is on par with their best hitter this season, Brown. We have four other hitters on the floor that can terminate at even higher clips. Our setter is more experienced, although it looks like Fordham has a winner in Woodrow. And, we have a back row group that is five-deep if we need to be, starting with the three rotation players of Karrissa Kaminski, Gaby Arroyo and Anna MacDonald. You have to show up ready to compete and play your best, or you will get beat even in the A10. But it’s highly likely that your Dayton Flyers will still be at the top of the A10 standings before dinner is served on Saturday evening.
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