The Weber State University volleyball team fell to Northern Arizona University in five sets and in-state rival Southern Utah University in three sets last week. The Wildcats now have a 2-10 record in Big Sky Conference play and an 8-15 overall record.
“If you were to take a look at our errors, we go over a lot of numbers; we have consistently cut down 10 errors per match for the last three matches,” said Head Coach Tom Peterson. “That’s in our favor.”
Team Captain Caitlin Penord said the team struggled with blocking, but it can get better.
“The key for us right now has a lot to do with our block,” she said. “We are a really good blocking team, and sometimes we don’t show it. That messes up our defense a little bit. When we can shut other teams down, that messes up their outside hitters and makes our lives a lot easier.”
On Thursday, WSU battled NAU, but couldn’t prevail with 27-29, 25-14, 21-25, 25-13 and 15-4 scores. Audrey Biggs had a career high of 15 kills. Audrey Gee had seven blocks and five kills with a .400 attack percentage. Rebecca Fuchs had nine kills, and the Wildcats recorded a season-high 16.5 team blocks against NAU.
Penrod had 35 assists, 11 digs and three blocks. Senior libero Laurel Bodily added 18 digs for the Wildcats.
WSU had a total of 47 kills, 37 errors, 57 digs and five serving aces. NAU had 55 kills, 24 errors, 59 digs and four serving aces.
“Momentum in volleyball is something where you can be up really big in one game, and then three minutes later, the complexion turns,” Peterson said. “I think the momentum switch was it. At the end of the fourth game, I thought NAU had the momentum. They kept going into the fifth game.”
Peterson also said the team looked like it was lagging toward the end of the match against NAU.
“I was a little concerned with a few of us being winded,” he said. “That is something we haven’t experienced. We have to make sure we are in good physical and mental shape, especially if it’s a long match.”
On Saturday, WSU lost to SUU in a quick three sets with scores of 25-21, 25-15 and 25-22. Junior middle blocker Briana Wilms added six kills and three blocks. Senior middle blocker Dama Cox had five kills and four blocks. Bodily contributed 17 digs for the Wildcats, while freshman setter Whitney Hunt had 13 digs.
SUU was led by Cashaana Renfro’s 14 kills. The Thunderbirds had a total of 40 kills, 20 errors, 36 assists, three serving aces and nine team blocks. The Wildcats had a total of 28 kills, 22 errors, 28 assists and 11 team blocks.
“SUU is a good team, and they are well coached,” Peterson said. “We had to match what they were doing. Our hitting percentage went down compared to theirs. We matched them in pretty much everything else. If we would have just done one little thing, I don’t think that match would have been as lopsided as it seemed.”
The team also had some struggles with cohesive team chemistry.
“Chemistry last weekend varied from game to game,” said Team Captain Shanae Burgin. “The people who were in were switched up, and I think there might have been some frustration on the bench. That’s the problem; it can’t be the team on the court or the team on the bench. It doesn’t work that way.”
She went on to say the team is one unit — it wins together and loses together.
“We should all be so excited for whoever’s in,” Burgin said. “When we play together, we win together. When we lose together, none of us look good. There is not a separation between playing and not playing.”
WSU will continue Big Sky play with another road trip to the University of Northern Colorado on Thursday and the University of North Dakota on Saturday.
“There is not a ‘gimme’ in our league right now,” Peterson said. “All of these teams are capable of beating any other team. Look at the standings: Even the teams we are even with are beating some good teams. We just need to do the same, cut down on a few more errors, keep our hitting percentage up, and we will be right there.”