The volleyball team is searching for some consistency now that conference season
It didn’t find any this weekend. The Owls opened their Atlantic Ten Conference schedule on the road with a dominant performance against Duquesne Friday, sweeping the Dukes 3-0 (30-23, 30-22, 30-26). But on Saturday, the Owls dropped three straight games to Saint Louis after taking an early lead, losing 3-1 (30-21, 16-30, 23-30, 16-30) in a match in which they committed 25 team errors.
“They didn’t beat us because they were a better team than we are,” senior Jessica Waybrant said.
“We just let them beat us … to lose to a team that we are better than is frustrating.”
“It was a bad loss,” junior Christina DeMarco said, “and there is no excuse for it.”
Despite the impressive win at Duquesne, the team is not satisfied with splitting the two matches, DeMarco said.
“We played really well at Duquesne,” she said. “I thought we really played like a team. Then we went to Saint Louis and just fell apart after the first game.”
The Owls (7-8 overall, 1-1 A-10) were picked apart by the explosive Saint Louis offense.
The Billikens (9-5, 2-0), who are on a four-match winning streak, had five players reach double-digit kills, including freshman Sammi McCloud, the reigning A-10 rookie of the week. Two weeks ago, Owls coach Bob Bertucci said the team was still adjusting to the rotational-style of defense that he installed at the beginning of the season.
“We instituted a new defense this year and we’re not playing it right yet,” Bertucci said.
“That’s a big part of why we’re not defending as well as I would like us to.”
Some players have only played defense one way throughout their careers, so the process of learning a new scheme has been somewhat of a challenge, Waybrant said.
“They have to think cognitively about where they need to be [on the floor] now,” she said.
Another major focus for the Owls is serving the ball aggressively, Bertucci said. The team had only five aces in its two weekend matches, while Duquesne and Saint Louis combined for nine against the Owls. The Owls’ offense was led by DeMarco,
Waybrant and junior Yue Liu, who each finished with double-digit kills against the Dukes. Liu and junior Ying Sun Ling and sophomore Patricia Vernon each had 12 kills against the Billikens.
More than any technical improvements, the team must acquire a winning mentality, DeMarco said. She said the Owls must improve their attitude when momentum is not on their side. “We really don’t have enough confidence in ourselves at this point,” DeMarco said. “As soon as a team starts putting pressure on us, we start folding.”
The Owls return home this weekend to take on Fordham (13-6 overall) and Rhode Island (3-13) in two matches at McGonigle Hall.The Owls are 5-1 on their home floor this season and 22-0 all-time against Fordham.
Tyson McCloud can be reached at email@example.com.