For upperclassmen and Elon University Volleyball teammates, senior Sydney Busa and junior Maddie Jaudon, stepping onto the home court in Alumni Gym is something they are used to.
What they are not used to is hitting career milestones. Both Busa and Jaudon reached a milestone in September. Jaudon recorded her 1,000th career dig during a match against the University of Maryland Sept. 2, while Busa recorded her 1,000th career kill during this weekend’s Phoenix Classic.
“It felt good,” Busa said. “I’ve had that on my mind for a while. My dad, every game for like the past four games, has been like, ‘How many away are you? 37...23.’ I’ve been very aware of it. When it happened they were all really excited so it was a good feeling.”
Jaudon says she feels the same way after reaching her milestone.
“It was nice getting it, and I couldn’t do it without everyone else on the team,” Jaudon said. “We’ve had exceptional blocking ever since I’ve been here, so they make it easy around them ... that’s all I could ask for.”
“Both of them read the ball so well, and they are quick to the ball,” head coach Mary Tendler said praising the two. “They are just so aggressive.”
After the Phoenix classic this weekend, Jaudon sits at 1,076 digs in her career, just four away from 10th place in all-time program history. Busa will have some work to do in order to reach 10th place in kills, as that record sits at 1,100.
Busa agrees that between the offensive killing from herself and the defending digs by Jaudon, the Elon volleyball team works as a cohesive unit.
“It shows that we’re well-rounded offensively and defensively,” she said. “We have Maddie [Jaudon] who can pick up whatever in the back row, and I’m up there with two other really strong hitters when I’m up in the front row, so I think it shows that we’re well-rounded this year and have a complete team.”
The team is off to a hot start, beginning the season well over .500 with a record of 8-3 after winning the home Phoenix Classic tournament this past weekend. Elon took home the trophy after beating Charleston Southern University 3-0 (25-13, 25-22, 25-19) Friday night, defeating North Carolina Central University 3-1 (25-14, 25-23, 20-25, 25-14) Saturday afternoon and closing the deal Saturday evening by shutting out Norfolk State University 3-0 (25-14, 25-13, 25-20).
“Right now we’re just working on playing consistently,” Jaudon said. “We always come out with a bang and making sure that we end with a bang, too. We have this momentum ... the better we do now, the better we will be in conference.”
“We absolutely want to continue that,” Busa said. “We’ve been practicing really hard to make a statement in the CAA this year, so ... we’re working toward our goal and we’re getting better every match and we’re figuring out what we need to work on. I think come conference we’ll be pretty strong.”
Based on the numbers, the team is off to a great start this season. In addition to the record, the Phoenix has won 26 sets to the opponents’ 14. The team is averaging more kills, aces, digs and points won than their opponents.
The Phoenix will have another nonconference weekend coming up, as Elon welcomes the Midshipman of the Naval Academy to Alumni Gym on Friday evening and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro Spartans Saturday morning.
As Elon continues to welcome opponents to Alumni Gym, one thing remains on the minds of the players and the coaches; next year, the volleyball team, as well as men’s and women’s basketball, will relocate to a new venue ... the Schar Convocation Center.
“It’s pretty surreal,” Busa said. “It hasn’t really hit me that this will be the end. But it’s been an honor to play for Elon and to have this opportunity, so it will be fun to shut this gym down.”
At her 15th year at the helm of the Elon volleyball team, Tendler says that she, like Busa, wants to leave her mark on the arena that has been a central part of the success that the team has accomplished.
“We talk about that a lot ... to do something special here in Alumni Gym in the last year,” Tendler said. “And the players are into it. We’re so excited to move to the Schar Center, but we’re also excited to make it a great last season here in Alumni Gym.”
The Phoenix looks to continue their streak in Alumni Gym as they welcome opponents to Elon in six of their next seven games. Conference games begin next weekend as Colonial Athletic Association rivals Towson and Delaware come to town.
“We’re hoping to get a good crowd cheering us on,” Tendler said. “They are going to be really good matches next week.”