The Weber State University volleyball team once again struggled to find its rhythm and fell in straight sets to the University of Montana (25-19, 25-11, 25-22) on Saturday. It was the Wildcats’ third-straight loss and fourth straight on the road.
The Wildcats were unable to gain any momentum in a hostile environment or pull off any sort of upset. Their record now stands at 7-23 overall, 3-13 in Big Sky Conference.
Trying to put the performance of the match from the night before behind them and get an upset on the road, the Wildcats were looking to control the match from the start. Ball control dictated how the match went, having been a factor for the Wildcats all year.
“Everybody was off tonight,” said head coach Tom Peterson. “Our ball control kept us out of the match. We have to pass better and pass as good or better than the other team to win. We don’t do well under pressure, and find ourselves giving into nerves during matches. I need to continue to show confidence in the team so that they feel encouraged.”
Sophomore Audrey Hunter said the Wildcats didn’t play the way they have been practicing and how they are capable of playing. She too emphasized ball control as one of the factors that affected their performance.
“I think we had a breakdown in ball control,” she said. “Also, we had some service errors in really crucial points of the match. When we are out on the road, we can achieve those upsets. If we can connect with our setters, our hitters will contribute more to matches.”
The Wildcats were determined to put up a fight, exchanging leads with the Grizzlies in the first set, which included five ties and four lead changes. But the Grizzlies did just enough to pull away and win the first set, and that momentum carried over to the second set. After taking a 7-6 lead early in the set, they pushed on the gas and won the second set by 14 points.
In the third set, the Wildcats showed a sense of urgency as they tried to extend the match. But after seven ties and three lead changes, the Grizzlies had just enough to send the Wildcats home in straight sets.
Sophomore Rebecca Fuchs led the way for the Wildcats with 10 kills, four blocks and seven digs. Junior Audrey Biggs added another seven kills and nine digs, while freshman Katie Harvey had five kills and five blocks.
Peterson said he has seen a change on the defensive side of the ball, as other players are getting more digs, helping out junior McKay Tarbox, who had the majority of the digs earlier in the season. As the team heads into the final four games of the year, Peterson said, it has a chance to walk away with wins and finish the season on a positive note.
“We want to win the rest of these games,” he said. “We are not that far behind the top teams in conference, and we are just going to play hard and never give up.”
The Wildcats will finish off their final road trip of the season as they take on Idaho State University on Wednesday. They will then travel to take on California State University, Sacramento on Nov. 16.