Back-to-back losses temper volleyball’s hot start to A-10 play

Media Credit: Zach Brien | Photographer

The Colonials lost their first game of the season to the Billikens.

During its weekend homestand, volleyball dropped two matchups in three sets to Saint Louis and Dayton Friday and Saturday, respectively.

The Colonials (9–9, 3–2 A-10) lost their first game to the Billikens (10–8, 4–1 A-10) 3–0 Friday and repeated the loss against the Flyers (12–6, 5–0 A-10) Saturday. The squad’s two losses snap its three-game win streak in Atlantic 10 Conference play.

Head coach Sarah Bernson said the team played a “lackluster” game against Saint Louis but showed more energy and enthusiasm heading into its matchup with Dayton.

“We didn’t play emotionally engaged as much as we have in the previous games, and I felt like we turned that around today,” Bernson said. “If we played last night like we played tonight, it would have been a different outcome. That was a good lesson for us.”

The team recorded 32 and 33 kills Friday and Saturday, respectively, clocking in just under the squad’s season average of about 39 kills and its average of about 50 kills during its three-game conference win streak.

The Colonials beat George Mason 3–2 at home Sept. 28 before collecting two clean sweeps on the road against Duquesne and La Salle on Oct. 4 and 6, respectively.

Friday

Saint Louis routed GW 3–0, with the Colonials losing each set by an average of 5.67 points and ending their win streak.

The Billikens hit the ball at a .250 clip, topping the Colonials’ hitting percentage two-and-a-half times over. Senior hitter Skylar Iott said the squad does not have overarching structural problems, but players need to tweak minor skills, like servers’ path and direction.

“There are small margins that we lose by and it’s small things that affect our team,” Iott said. “We don’t have to work on our entire blocking scheme.”

In the first set, the Colonials kept up with the Billikens point-for-point until the game was deadlocked at 13 apiece. Saint Louis broke away and kept the lead for the rest of the set, topping the Colonials 25–19.

The second set was marked by four lead changes, but the Billikens came out on top again with another 25–19 result. Iott notched four kills in the set to add to her team-leading 12 kills on the night.

With their backs against the wall, the Colonials opened the third set 7–3, but a five-point run by Saint Louis gave the Billikens the lead that carried them for the rest of the game. The Colonials ended the night with a 3–0 loss.

Saturday

The Colonials dropped their second matchup of the weekend 3–0 to Dayton.

In the first set, the Colonials slugged it out at the net. The lead changed six times throughout the matchup, but Dayton went on a four-point run to narrowly take the set 26–24.

Bernson said the team fought to the last point, but the Flyers executed at a higher level than the Colonials.

“They executed well on their swings and threaded the needle through our block better than we did, and I think something we need to continue to work on is our execution,” Bernson said. “Our distribution was good and I think we hit smart shots.”

The Colonials were hammered 25–15 in the second set mostly because of their inability to break Dayton’s serving streak. The Flyers went on two three-point streaks and ended the game on a four-point service streak. The Flyers nabbed six service aces on the night.

“That’s the hardest part about the game, when your opponent goes on a run, it’s very hard to come back to anything that’s more than three points,” sophomore middle blocker Melody Williams said.

The Flyers put the match away through another hard fought set in which they narrowly triumphed 25–21. Iott was a bright spot again for the Colonials, leading the team in both kills (12) and aces (2).

Williams said the squad struggled to pick up tips in its matches against Saint Louis and Dayton. She added that the squad can work to make the serve receive more difficult for its competitors.

“It’s picking up tips,” Williams said. “I think we didn’t do that today or yesterday.”

Bernson said the team needs to improve its execution on the first and second contacts, receive the serve and set the offense to win close sets.

“We spent a lot of time on first contact early in the season, and now we’re focused on the third contact and how we put balls away,” Bernson said. “We know we can get better, it’s really empowering. The team has a very positive mindset on how they’re going to get better.”

The Colonials are back in action Friday for a rematch against La Salle at 7 p.m. The squad topped the Explorers 3–0 Oct. 6.

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