The Weber State University women’s volleyball team entered last weekend hoping to win their first game of the season, but found themselves once again winless on Sunday morning.
On Friday afternoon, the Wildcats (0-18) faced off against the University of Montana Grizzlies (5-10), 3-1. WSU started out the first set strong, taking a large lead early. Despite WSU’s best efforts, UM battled back and tied the score up at 21-21. On the next play, UM scored again, giving them the lead for the first time in the set. The Wildcats were only able to score once more during the set, and lost 25-22.
Captain Shanae Langston said the Wildcats struggled with mistakes in the match on Friday, and couldn’t recover.
“We made too many errors on Friday,” Langston said, “and couldn’t pull ourselves out of the hole we threw ourselves into.”
The second set played out very similarly to the first set, except the Grizzlies took the early lead, and WSU battled back to take the lead and win the set. For the majority of the third set, the score was almost constantly a tie, or the two teams were only separated by a single point. The Wildcats could not keep it up, however, and lost the third set by a score of 25-18. UM ended the match by winning the fourth set 25-19, securing their fifth win of the season and handing the Wildcats their 17th loss of the year.
On Saturday night, WSU hosted the Montana State University Bobcats (2-15) in a gritty match that ended in a close 3-2 win for the Bobcats. Langston said she felt the team performed better on Saturday, but still was unable to come up with the win.
“Saturday night was lots better,” Langston said. “We played with high emotion and excitement, and didn’t make as many errors.”
Fresh off of their first win of the season the night before, the Bobcats found themselves down early in the first set, at one time losing by as much as six points. MSU managed to cut the deficit in half and themselves within two points of WSU, but the Wildcats were able to maintain their lead and won the first match 25-23.
In the second set, what started out as a close game became a blowout when MSU turned a 13-9 game into a blowout 10-point win as the Wildcats lost 25-15. The third set saw the Bobcats take another quick lead, and despite a late rally by WSU, MSU managed to maintain a four-point lead and won the set 25-21. With WSU in a hole and one set away from another disappointing loss, the team came out and thoroughly dominated the Bobcats, maintaining a 10-point lead for much of the set, and the Wildcats won 25-16, forcing a winner-take-all fifth set.
The Bobcats seemed like they were going to cruise their way to another win as they jumped out quickly, taking a 5-1 lead. It seemed like the match was all but finished, but the Wildcats went on a tear and managed to tie the game up at 14-14. The crowd of more than 400 fans was on its feet, cheering wildly at the comeback, but it was short-lived, as WSU quickly surrendered the game-winning points to MSU, losing the set 16-14 and the match 3-2.
After the game Saturday night, Head Coach Tom Peterson said he felt that one of the critical factors in the loss was that the team made a lot of errors, and that is something the team needs to work harder on in practice.
“When we get better ball control,” Peterson said, “we are going to start winning more of these matches. Winning is contagious. Losing is contagious. We have to get over the hump, but I don’t know a better remedy than to work even harder. That’s what we have to do.”
Despite the Wildcats’ winless season so far, they have seen some success on defense. WSU entered Friday’s game as the Big Sky Conference team leader in blocks, averaging 2.53 blocks per set. Their match against Sacramento State University the previous weekend saw the Wildcats make 20.5 blocks in the match, and that carried over somewhat as they made 9.5 blocks Friday against UM and 10.5 blocks against MSU on Saturday. The Wildcats were ranked 35 in the nation in blocks per set, thanks in part to redshirt freshman Ashley Orr, who leads the team, averaging 1.08 blocks per set.
One of the important thoughts Peterson said he took away from Saturday’s game was the fact that the team was able to come back from behind and make it a close game, and he said he believes the team can use that as a starting point and hopefully progress from there. The Wildcats will attempt to follow up Saturday’s strong performance when they travel to Greeley, Colo., this Thursday and try to win their first game of the season against the Northern Colorado University Bears (11-6).