WASHINGTON—The top-seeded Duquesne volleyball team captured its first-ever Atlantic 10 title Sunday afternoon at the Charles E. Smith Center on the campus of The George Washington University. The Dukes beat second-seeded VCU 3-1 (25-13, 25-18, 18-25, 25-23) to win the Championship and earn the A-10’s automatic bid to the NCAA Championship.
Both teams were playing in their first Atlantic 10 title match and this was the first time since 2002 that Dayton or Saint Louis hasn’t been the A-10 champion. Duquesne awaits the NCAA Selection show, which will airs Sunday, Dec. 1 at 9:30 p.m. on ESPNU.
DU junior Arielle Love tallied 21 kills and 10 blocks for the weekend, including 10 and four respectively Sunday to earn Championship Most Outstanding Player honors. She was joined by Allison Foschia, who had 13 kills and 11 digs and Madelynn Burnham’s 12 kills.
Duquesne (20-9) came out on fire offensively, winning six of the first eight points on kills from Love, Levers and Farage. The Dukes hit .394 in the first set as a team, paced by Love and Burnham, who each had three kills. Burnham hit .750 in the set and Love .333 to spark a 25-13 set one win.
The Dukes started set two in the same fashion, scoring seven of the first eight points to take a commanding lead that led to a 25-18 set two win, but VCU came out of the intermission on fire, controlling set three. The Rams (25-8) used a 5-1 run midway through the set to establish a lead they never relinquished, winning 25-18.
The fourth set was tight throughout, and even though VCU took an early 8-3 lead, the Dukes fought back and tied it a 11 on a block by Marah Fararge. The teams traded points the rest of the way, but with the score tied at 23, a VCU attack error and an ace by Duquesne’s Sammy Kline gave the Dukes a 25-23 win and their first volleyball title.
Mary Henry tallied 43 assists and 12 digs for the Dukes and Farage had a team-high five blocks. Patti Abshire also had 13 digs. Romana Kriskova had a match-high 21 kills 10 digs for the Rams and Kalah Jones tallied 13 kills. Saige Gallop also had 11 digs and Janelle Sykes had four blocks.
Joining Love on the All-Championship team were Henry and Farage from Duquesne, Amanda Love and Kriskova from VCU, GW’s Chidima Osuchukwu, and Dayton’s Shayne Brown.