Normally it’s the hitters that have the highlights in Division I women’s volleyball. From the big blocks to the sweet swings, there’s no doubt offense is what attracts interest to the sport. But perhaps the most exciting plays begin with defense.
Momentum is a major factor in volleyball — arguably more so than other sports — and a long rally can turn the tide for the rest of the match. From diving saves to impenetrable blocking at the net, we’ve compiled a list of nine of the best rallies so far this volleyball season.
No. 9 - Towson libero sets school digs record in extended rally
Anna Holehouse didn’t know why her teammates were celebrating on the sideline after she dug the first ball over the net against La Salle in this rally that lasted nearly one minute. Turns out, she broke the school record with her 1,869th career dig for the Tigers.
🚨 Sixty seconds of chaos 🚨— NCAA Volleyball (@NCAAVolleyball) September 20, 2018
Senior libero Anna Holehouse takes us through 60 seconds of internal play calling as she became @Towson_VB’s all-time digs leader: https://t.co/s0JjJG2YMU#NCAAVB pic.twitter.com/1n64He1QOp
No. 8 - Georgia ends rally with big block versus LSU
The Bulldogs’ five-set victory against the Tigers had plenty of highlights, but it was this rally with several improbable saves and a block to end it that provided the most substantial applause from the home crowd.
#NCAAVB Plays of the Week 🏐— NCAA Volleyball (@NCAAVolleyball) September 25, 2018
4️⃣ | LONG won by @UGAVolleyball in the fourth set of Friday's match against @lsuvolleyball. pic.twitter.com/wMt6MzMOkL
No. 7 - NC State slams powerful kill after 46-touch rally
In the ACC opener between the Wolfpack and the Louisville Cardinals, the intensity of the game can truly be summed up in this one point. Although NC State won the point off a kill from Melissa Evans, Louisville won the match in four sets.
👀👀— NCAA Volleyball (@NCAAVolleyball) September 22, 2018
(via @PackVball) pic.twitter.com/B1vz50csqG
No. 6 - Ohio State caps upset with grueling rally
When you get your shot at the Nittany Lions, you best not miss. In a near-deadlocked four set — 24-23 — the Buckeyes kept putting pressure on fourth-ranked Penn State with match point. Setter Becca Mauer had the big solo block to seal the upset.
An EPIC rally to cap off an EPIC upset❗️ #NCAAVB— NCAA Volleyball (@NCAAVolleyball) September 23, 2018
(via @OhioStateWVB) pic.twitter.com/0hTuFimFTi
No. 5 - Arizona’s Kendra Dahlke hits from knees to save point
Outside hitter Kendra Dahlke has been exceptional this season for the Wildcats. This point is no different. In one series, she dives for the dig and recovers just in time to scramble to the ball and hit it over from her knees after the second hit. Arizona went on to win the point.
The hustle. The effort. The defense.#NCAAVB #SCtop10— NCAA Volleyball (@NCAAVolleyball) September 17, 2018
No. 4 - BYU’s Mary Lake goes full extension for a save off the block
On first glance, the ball looked as good as gone. The hit from Utah’s Kenzie Koerber goes flying off the block, but somehow, some way Mary Lake gets to it and makes a great hit to give her teammates enough time to gather under it and send it back over the net. Naturally, the Cougars followed it with a thunderous block.
71% of the world is covered by water. The rest is covered by @BYUwvolleyball‘s Mary Lake 😲#NCAAVB #SCtop10 pic.twitter.com/2YLNFZ9Hud— NCAA Volleyball (@NCAAVolleyball) September 14, 2018
No. 3 - Creighton’s block party on match point
How about not one, not two, but five rejections at the net for the Blue Jays to clinch the match. This is one of the best rallies because not only does it have some great defense by blocking, but Wichita State has some tremendous digs on the blocks and high-velocity hits from Creighton.
You couldn't ask for a better rally than match point in No. 14 Creighton's win against Wichita State! 😱🏐#NCAAVB #SCtop10— NCAA Volleyball (@NCAAVolleyball) September 9, 2018
No. 2 - Tulane’s Makala Heidelberg tallies back-to-back-to-back digs
A good hint for opposing teams against the Green Wave: Hit it where Makala Heidelberg isn’t. She makes three ridiculous one-arm digs to keep the point alive, with the final one being a good enough pass for the setter to deliver a perfect ball for a cross-court kill.
WHAT A PLAY! Intense back and forth action and FIVE digs from Heidelberg ends with a kill from Douglas and a point for the Wave earlier this match in set 2! #RollWave pic.twitter.com/EFAMLWBeX2— Tulane Volleyball (@GreenWaveVB) August 26, 2018
No. 1 - Illinois gets to match point against Creighton
In the final week of nonconference season, these two top-10 teams left it all on the floor with some truly incredible displays of athleticism and overall talent. A few great digs on both sides, coupled with the speed of the play and the velocity of the hits made for a terrific rally to put the Illini at match point.
What. A. Point.— Illini Volleyball (@IlliniVBall) September 16, 2018
It's getting LOUD in Huff Hall. #ILLINI pic.twitter.com/DjHfzyAgu3
Texas A&M at Oklahoma
#TopPlayTuesday | #Sooners stay alive during a long rally on Friday night to claim a hard-fought point. 💪 pic.twitter.com/2axsHbBZvc— Oklahoma Volleyball (@OU_Volleyball) September 18, 2018
Penn State at Howard
Great volleyball on both sides of the net in this extended rally between @HUBisonVB and @PennStateVBALL. #NCAAVB pic.twitter.com/3KhLaK5skL— NCAA Volleyball (@NCAAVolleyball) September 15, 2018