What’s eating the women’s volleyball team?
The Owls (11-5, 4-3 Atlantic 10) had a chance to gain sole possession of first place in the A-10 last weekend, but instead dropped to fourth place with disappointing losses to conference rivals Dayton and Xavier, both on the road.
Only midway through the season, the Owls seem fatigued.
|“I don’t think anyone has given up on our season yet. I just think that it’s been a wake up call that we’re going to have to play better because there’s a lot of good teams out there.”
Solana Lee, junior setter
“I don’t think anyone has given up on our season yet,” junior setter Solana Lee said. “I just think that it’s been a wake up call that we’re going to have to play better because there’s a lot of good teams out there.”
The team’s recent nine-game winning streak seems like nine seasons ago. Since a loss to Duquense, the team hasn’t seemed the same.
There are a number of factors contributing to the recent slide.
Xavier was able to figure out the Owls defensive set-ups and tendencies and was able to expose their weakness with the simple tactic of tipping the ball over the net.
“In the Xavier game what went wrong was our defense,” Coach Bob Bertucci said. “Basically Xavier was attacking the weakness in our defense by tipping us a lot. They forced us to play out of system all the time and never gave us the chance to get the engine going.”
Dayton, the next opponent, didn’t have to do much as the Owls took themselves out of the game with poor passing and serving.
The team has been going through some growing pains with their lack of focus and motivation and should concentrate on taking things one game at a time instead of envisioning a run at the playoffs, one of the goals the team has their eyes set upon.
“We’re not a championship team right now,” Bertucci said. “We have all the technical abilities and the talent to win but we’re not playing like a championship team right now. We have a lot of work to do.”
Time will be the only way the younger players will be able to mature and develop a certain mentality on and off the court; a mentality that is required to win championships.
“It takes a mature and experienced team not to have a loss affect them mentally or emotionally,” Bertucci said. “This team hasn’t gotten quite to that point yet in terms of maturity where they can shrug it off. They’re a very good team but haven’t quite figured it out yet.”
There has also been a noticeable change in the women’s attitude towards practice and conditioning, where it has been like pulling teeth to get some of the players to practice at 100 percent instead of just going through the motions.
“Until they are willing to work hard and pay the price they are not going to be successful,” Bertucci said.
Talent can win games but only desire and focus will take this team where they want be, which at the present moment is uncertain.