Fordham Volleyball Punches Ticket to the A-10 Tournament

Fordham got exactly the results they needed, a match and set win from two matches against the rival Rhode Island Rams, to secure a second consecutive spot in the Atlantic 10 tournament and keep their season alive.


Fordham honored its four seniors before a resounding victory over Rhode Island on Friday. (Courtesy of Fordham Athletics)

It has been a storybook ending to a historic season for Fordham Volleyball, one that is not yet over as they head to the Atlantic 10 tournament in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, this weekend. The squad made it to playoffs for the first time in a decade in last year’s shortened COVID-19 season before losing to the top-seeded University of Dayton in the first round, as the Flyers went on to win it all.

Coming into this season, the Rams were predicted to finish fourth in the preseason coaches poll. At times, their conference games did not go as planned, but they hung onto the number six spot heading into the final weekend of conference play. Only six teams make it to the playoffs, and they just edged out University of Rhode Island in the seventh spot.

They lost all three of their home matches last week to Saint Louis University, Virginia Commonwealth University and Davidson College, second, third and fourth-ranked respectively. They managed to take the Billikens to five nail-biting sets to kick off their weekend, but SLU showed its experience late in the game and edged out the hosting Rams. Following the three losses, the Rams now had to win at least one game in their final weekend, with a home-and-home set against Rhode Island, a team they had not yet faced this season.

Fordham last played URI in March. Again, it was in the final two games of their season. They were swept both on the road and at home. The outcome was different this time around.

On Friday, Nov. 12, Fordham swept Rhode Island in emphatic fashion.

Celebrating senior night and coming off three straight losses — swept at home in two of them — Fordham jumped on the visitors early, taking the first set by a drastic 25–11, the lowest amount of points they held a team to since they played George Mason University back in October.

They then won the next two 25–20 and managed to make only 10 attacking errors the entire game, their fourth-lowest number on the year.

Senior outside hitter Bella Urena led the way for the offense with 14 kills, two blocks and an ace. She has been crucial to the Fordham offense all season long, along with sophomore Whitley Moody who was just behind her with 12 kills, two blocks and two aces. The former hit her third-most efficient match this season at a .370 clip.

Urena noted how pivotal winning the first match was for the team. “It was extremely crucial for us to win in three sets on Friday not only for senior night but to also put our best foot forward before we hit the road for Sunday’s match,” she said. “The Friday match was super emotional for me being my last game in Rose Hill but super fun to be surrounded by my teammates and family! I’m so happy to be a part of the team that has led Fordham to go back to back to A-10s, especially since this has never happened for the program.”

Urena was one of four seniors being honored, along with middle blockers Claire O’Neil and Joey Landeros and setter Makala Tanaka.

O’Neil, filling in for Landeros since she sprained her ankle a couple of weeks ago, added five kills and blocks apiece. Chloe Pejouan, in for Izzy Fichtel since their ankle injury last weekend, added to the Fordham block party with a team-high six blocks, putting her average of blocks per set at 1.67 over 45 sets. That mark would put her at second among all of Division 1 if she met the required sets.

Middle blocker Aria De La Rosa added to the offense, committing no errors and hitting her third-most efficient game, posting eight kills at a .533 clip.

Junior setter Megan Brzozowski, eighth all-time in Fordham history in assists, controlled the assists category with 36 while contributing nine digs, two blocks, and two aces.

The juggernaut-like Fordham offense gave the Rams the advantage they needed heading into the final game. Fordham needed to win just one set heading into Sunday’s match in Kingstown with the sixth playoff spot coming down to point differential.

That’s exactly what they did.

Rhode Island came out with passion, winning the first two sets 25–15 and 25–13. Fordham showed their resilience taking the third set 25–19 before dropping the final one 25–20.

With the win, Fordham Volleyball finishes with an 8–19 record overall, 5–11 in-conference. Most importantly, they secured the sixth spot in the A-10 Tournament, the first time the Rams have made back-to-back playoffs since the 2007 and 2008 seasons.

They will hit the road on Thursday and face the third-ranked Billikens on Nov. 19 at Duquesne University, home to this year’s competition. The winner will face off against second-ranked VCU on Saturday, Nov. 20.

The Rams were swept in their first meeting with the Billikens, yet their second match saw a very different outcome. The Rams took SLU to five sets at home, winning the second and fourth sets before ultimately falling 20–25, 25–17, 21–25, 26–24 and 11–15. Fordham’s big question surrounds their injuries. Will Landeros and Fichtel be back in time to play in the playoffs? Fichtel had 11 kills in the five set thriller as Urena led the way, matching a career-high 18 kills.

Beyond the wins and losses, the regular season saw a Player of the Week honor for reigning A-10 Rookie of the Year Whitley Moody, Defensive Player of the Week honor for junior libero Mallory Lipski, many career-high matches and Brzozowski moving up in the all-time assists list.

However, the team is not done yet and will look to advance past the first round this weekend.