by: Neil Frawley
Valdosta State volleyball team enters Gulf South Conference play with a pair of matches against Alabama Huntsville and North Alabama on Friday and Saturday.
Despite going up against two teams with losing records, this weekend presents a great opportunity for VSU to improve upon its weaknesses as they play towards their goal of winning the GSC volleyball tournament that begins in late November.
Although VSU is going up against what should be much weaker opponents, head coach Mike Swan is not concerned about the plights of his opponents when going forward through his game plan.
“I worry about my team and our side of the net and where we need to be playing, what level we need to be playing, and executing. So it’s about us being disciplined and focused and ready to play,” Coach Swan said.
VSU enters conference play 7-2 after suffering two losses in the Aiken Invitational, a two day tournament held in Aiken, South Carolina. VSU opened the tournament against Lander University, in which Lander won 3-1 in four sets, a game that head coach Mike Swan would love to have back.
“Friday’s loss to Lander was very disappointing. They had a winning record and they left the tournament 4-0, so they weren’t a bad team, (but) I just felt like fundamentally we should have won that game and we didn’t,” Swan said.
The second loss came to No.25 Palm Beach Atlantic. VSU held a two point lead in the first set of the match, but ultimately fell, and went on to lose the remaining sets.
VSU bounced back on day two, handling Limestone College in a 3-0 sweep, but the match of the weekend came against the host school USC Aiken, where VSU pulled out a 3-2 victory in which they fell 14-12 and rallied back with three straight points to win the match 15-14. VSU lost the first game, 25-22, and then traded wins the next three games, which forced a fifth, first to fifteen game to decide the match.
“We were down 8-4 at the switch, when the teams had to switch benches, and (then we) just got on a little run and went up 12-11, and then we missed a serve and then they went up and they were at match point at 14-13, and then we scored three straight points. Krista had a really huge ace for us. And then Destiny and Jenna made a huge block for us on match point for us to win. It was an exciting match, and we felt good getting away with (the win),” Swan said.
Now the season shifts from back to back weekend tournaments to the more repetitious conference play which will have the team playing much more often during the week. Following the matches this weekend, the squad will be journeying to West Alabama on Tuesday followed by another back to back weekend starting with home matches against Lee University and Shorter University.
“Now we have to get focused for conference, do well in conference play, we want to have a good seed and we want to win and go to the national tournament,” Swan said.
Despite having a 7-2 record and having played some challenging competition so far, Coach Swan still sees a lot of room major improvement with his team.
“Our servicee isn’t as consistent as I was wanting it to be, our passing breaks down pretty easily. And sometimes our serving is a problem, serving the ball out rather than making teams earn their points,” said Swan.
It would seem that going up against weaker competition this weekend would be as good of a time as any to work on these areas of concern.
Action begins on Friday at 7pm in the PE Complex, followed by Saturday’s match which begins at 2:30. Come out to support the Lady Blazers as they continue their pursuit of a championship.