A tough conference and a lack of momentum were too much for the women’s volleyball team last weekend as they came away from their second University Athletic Association round-robin tournament with one win and three losses.
“All the teams we play against for our conference are very tough,” senior co-captain and setter Liz Loveless said. “I thought we played very well on Saturday, but had a hard time putting things together on Sunday.”
The Yellowjackets split their Saturday matches, losing 1-3 against Carnegie Mellon University and pulling off a 3-2 win over Brandeis University. They were swept in both matches on Sunday, losing 0-3 to the University of Chicago and to Emory University.
UR had hoped to walk away from the tournament with two wins – against Brandeis and Chicago. A slow start and inability to execute got in their way against Chicago.
“We would have liked to come out of last weekend 2-2, but things don’t always work out the way you want them to,” sophomore outside hitter Haley Massa said. “We have nothing to blame the loss on other than the fact that we did not perform the way we have been taught since the beginning of the season.”
Chicago swept the match with a decisive 30-20, 30-23, 30-20 win. Against the Maroons, freshman outside hitter Susan Johnson had 11 kills and 15 digs. Junior co-captain and middle back Kristin Vogt finished with five kills, freshman setter Samantha Carr contributed 12 digs and Loveless had 25 assists and six digs.
“We definitely improved overall by the end of the weekend and picked things up in the afternoon Sunday, but we would have liked to come out with a win against Chicago,” Loveless said.
According to Loveless, it was hard to pinpoint what went wrong. “It just seemed like nothing was going right for us that morning,” she said. “We just never really had any momentum in the game.”
Head Coach Linda Downey attributes the team’s loss to an overload of games.
“Sunday we were really off in the morning,” she said. It happens when you play so many matches in one weekend.”
That afternoon, the Yellowjackets faced Emory and lost 30-11, 30-23, 30-28. Despite the outcome, Loveless said she thinks UR was back on its game against the Eagles. “I thought we regrouped well and played competitively against Emory in the second and third games of that match,” she said.
Against Emory, Vogt and Johnson each had 10 kills. Johnson had 16 digs, Massa finished with 14 and sophomore outside hitter Julie Mihalek had 11 digs. Loveless contributed 24 assists and 10 digs.
Emory went on to secure a third seed with a 5-2 conference record, behind Washington University in St. Louis, 7-0, and New York University, 6-1, for the UAA Volleyball Championships to be held in early November in New York City.
“All the teams in this conference are strong,” Downey said. “That’s what makes it so exciting.”
On Saturday the Yellowjackets opened the tournament with a 3-1 loss to Carnegie Mellon 28-30, 30-27, 22-30, 19-30. Against the Tartans, Johnson had 16 kills and 15 digs. Sophomore middle back Kate Czarniak had 10 kills, two aces and one solo block. Carr added three kills and 22 digs and Loveless drove the offense with 46 assists.
Massa had seven kills and senior co-captain and outside hitter Stephanie Bristol had three kills, seven digs and five aces.
UR’s win came Saturday afternoon against Brandeis as the Yellowjackets rallied to win games four and five in a tough 3-2 victory with a final score of 30-24, 25-30, 30-32, 32-30, 15-10.
The five-game match required contributions from several players. Vogt had 24 kills, six digs and five blocks. Johnson had 20 kills and 17 digs, Bristol contributed four kills, 20 digs and three aces and Massa added six kills and 21 digs.
Also contributing for the Yellowjackets were Carr with five aces, three kills and 29 digs and Loveless with 33 assists, 34 digs, nine kills and two blocks.
UR finished, in a tie with Brandeis, with a conference record of 2-5. Their head-to-head win over Brandeis gives the Yellowjackets the advantage and a fifth-place standing. Though only the top three seeds for the UAA championships have been officially determined, UR’s fifth-place finish would put them up against fourth- place finishers Carnegie Mellon in the championship tournament. A win in the opening round would likely leave them to face Washington, a nationally -ranked team with a conference games record of 21-4.
Downey feels that tough conference competition can only improve her team. “Three of the teams are ranked so it really doesn’t get any better than this,” she said.
This weekend’s tournament brought the Yellowjackets’ overall record to 19-9. “Our goal is to keep the loss count in the single digits and we will be playing our hardest to do so,” Massa said. “Despite our Chicago anomaly, the team has been working very well together. We are able to get into the flow of the game no matter who is on the court.”
UR will travel to Hamilton College on Saturday to take on Webster University, Vassar College and Hamilton. Downey is hopeful that the upcoming games will be a boost for her team. “If we can do well, it will give us some confidence going into the last part of the season.”
Loveless is also looking ahead. “Each match helps to make us better in the long run, so we just have to keep looking ahead and not worry about the games in the past,” she said.
Taylor can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.