A pair of volleyball matches this weekend is VSU’s last of the regular season and the final chance to catch the Lady Blazers in action on their home floor.
Coming off a heart-breaking 3-2 loss to No. 14 West Florida on Tuesday night, VSU must regain focus in its final weekend.
The first match will be against Lee University, with Christian Bothers to follow on Saturday. A strong outing this weekend would be crucial for VSU, who looks to enter the conference tournament with a head of steam.
“I think, physically, we’re in a pretty good state,” head coach Mike Swan said. “Everybody is pretty healthy; I don’t think we got overly tired. We’ve been cutting back on practices. We’ve played well at home, (so) now it’s just a matter of rising to the occasion and trying to take care of business here and to go into the conference tournament with momentum and confidence.”
The loss to UWF drops VSU’s conference record to 9-7 and brings the overall record to 18-12.
With their conference record, they are in a good position to grab the two seed in the tournament, which would grant them a first-round bye.
The win over West Georgia on Nov. 9 distanced themselves from both UWG and Christian Brothers who, at the time, were both 7-7 at the time, with VSU being 8-7 prior to the UWG win.
Entering the final weekend, UWG and CBU are one game back from VSU. So with Sunday’s match against CBU, VSU is in no position to coast going into its final home stance.
Fortunately, VSU has seemed to shake off the rust of being on the long road trip and is playing closer to its early season form.
“I think being on the road for five weeks doesn’t help anybody physically,” coach Swan said. “But I just think we’re not very focused when we play on the road … I just think these last two weeks, the girls are finally realizing that this is it; this is the end of their season … and I don’t think anybody is satisfied with us just having 18 wins. We need to get it to 20, at least.”
If VSU does reach its goal of finishing with 20 wins and going on to conference playoffs, the challenge then will be once again overcoming winning away from home, as the conference games will be played in Pensacola, Fla.
Coach Swan is optimistic that each team will have to be away from home. The only exception is that since UWF would be the host school, their team would have home-court advantage should VSU play them in the championship.
With the Argos as the clear cut favorites, a scenario like that seems very realistic.
“I’m pretty sure we would have a shot at winning an at-large bid if we were runner(s) up and we finished strong and got on a winning streak here at the end,” coach Swan said. “I think we would have a shot at getting an at-large just because West Georgia was in the region rankings, and we just beat them.”
But obviously the focus is on coming out with two victories and sealing up the No. 2 seed this weekend.
Play begins at 7 p.m. on Friday and at 1 p.m. on Saturday.
This article was written by Neil Frawley.