Written by Neil Frawley.
After suffering back to back road losses, the VSU volleyball team (4-2, 1-2) will look to rebound when it faces Union University and Christian Brothers University this weekend.
In VSU’s first four wins, not a single match reached the fifth set. That trend continued against Shorter University on Saturday and No. 18 University of West Florida on Tuesday, in which VSU dropped both matches 3-1.
Amid the two-match losing streak, perhaps the biggest hurdle the team faces is finding someone to fill the void of senior Krista Bradford who sustained a season-ending leg injury diving for a ball in a match against Lynn University on Sept. 5th.
“Losing Krista was a huge loss to us on defense, and on serve receive. And we’re still trying to make up for that adjustment,” head coach Mike Swan said.
Despite their start, Swan is concerned about team continuity between sets, maintaining control of leads have posed an issue all season.
“That’s the frustrating thing about it for coaches and fans alike,” Swan said. “We can never understand why there’s not a lot of continuity into the whole flow of the match.”
Against Shorter, leading 21-19 in the first set, VSU surrendered momentum on a service error and lost the set 25-23. The bleeding continued in the second set with a 25-13 loss.
“The second [set], we were never really in it,” Swan said. “Our service broke down; our hitters could not get a kill to save our life. We hit negative [percentage wise] in the game overall.
“The biggest problem we still have is not maintaining leads when we have them, especially late in the game. We were up 21-19; I think we were up the fourth game 22-21. We just have to find a way to stay more focused and not make so many careless self-mistakes.”
Against Lee University on Friday, VSU held a 21-15 first set lead before losing the set 25-23. VSU escaped with the 3-1 victory.
“I think a lot of times when we get behind there’s really just a lot of panicking and we lose our self-confidence,” Swan said. “But the good thing about volleyball is you have an opportunity to play five sets, and if you look really bad in one, you move yourself onto the next. We’re just going to try to get them to focus more.”
On a positive note, Swan is pleased with his team’s defense and is tweaking his roster to fill Bradford’s role as a key defensive contributor.
“I do think our defense is much improved,” Swan said. “If we could just terminate a lot more on our blocking; getting quality touches. If we could just terminate a lot more on those and find another outside now that Krista is down—we’ve tried three or four different people.”
VSU currently sits closer to the bottom of the Gulf South Conference standings, but has a chance to creep up the conference standings before hitting the road next Friday to play University of North Alabama.