At the Nazareth College Invitational over the weekend, the women's volleyball team struggled to maintain consistency. Although the Knights came away with a win against their first opponent SUNY Brockport, the fight-to-the-end style in which they did so presented cause for concern.
After dominating the early sets 25-15 and 25-14, Brockport took the third and fourth sets with little resistance, forcing a thrilling fifth set. In the fifth, the Knights jumped out to an 8-3 lead and barely hung on for a 16-14 victory. Head coach Jennifer Salmon was encouraged by how her team performed early on, but said, "We should have taken it in three … nothing should change in the third set." Maintaining strength at the end of matches continues to be an issue for the Knights this season.
Even though in their next match the Knights fell in three straight sets to Thiel College, Salmon said she was "content with the girls' effort" and felt that the team played at its best in the Thiel match. Sophomore Laura Galvin, who was seemingly everywhere, recording 26 digs and covering the court, played a key role.
Salmon viewed Friday as a positive day, noting that her squad "played to win and not just to not lose."
Facing SUNY Fredonia in the opener of the second day of the tournament, the positivity and high energy of the team seemed to diminish. Falling swiftly in three sets to Fredonia, the Knights showed very little confidence on the court. The tough loss to Fredonia the week prior may have played a role in robbing the team of enthusiasm.
In their final match of the tournament, the Knights squared off against host Nazareth College. This marked the first meeting of the two teams since the season opener, which Salmon still considers to be the Knights' most complete performance. After splitting the first two sets, Nazareth went on to take the next two and defeat the Knights in four. Though the Knights had performed well in their first showing against Nazareth, this match was filled with unforced errors: 14 missed serves, 16 receiving errors, and a 0.068 hitting percentage contributed greatly to the loss.
Although Salmon said she was disappointed and frustrated with the outcome, she did note that junior Kat Strickland and sophomore Megan Reed "stepped up and played well consistently and with very few errors."
"The weekend was disappointing and a little bit of a setback, but it's nothing we can't come back from," Salmon said. If the Knights can get back to playing as they have shown they can and the team can rediscover that confidence it once possessed, Salmon said she knows her team is talented enough to rack up some wins and finish the season strongly.
The Knights look to get back on track in their next match versus Hunter College this Friday at the SUNY Cortland tournament.
Ed. Note:The Knights continued to struggle on Tuesday, dropping a three set match to the Rochester Institute of Technology.
Senior Krista Frieling had 11 kills and freshman Noelle Morrison added 31 assists to lead the Knights in the loss.
The Knights fall to 9-16 on the season and travel to the Cortland Tournament on Friday and Saturday.