The women’s volleyball team emerged from last weekend’s tournament at Hamilton College with mixed results. After suffering two tough five-game losses to Webster University and Vassar College, the Yellowjackets went on to post their 20th victory of the season by defeating Hamilton in an easy 3-0 win on Saturday.

UR won the Hamilton match 30-17, 30-18, 30-20, improving its record to 20-11. Against Hamilton, junior co-captain and setter Liz Loveless led the team with 35 assists. Freshman Samantha Carr had 19 digs, sophomore middle back Kate Czarniak contributed 10 kills and freshman outside hitter Susan Johnson added 13 kills and 13 digs.

The win came after the Yellowjackets lost two 3-2 matches earlier the same day against Webster and Vassar.

“We played two very tough matches at Hamilton. Both were hard fought, but we just didn’t come out on top in the fifth game,” Head Coach Linda Downey said.

Webster defeated UR 32-30, 20-30, 30-26, 25-30, 9-15. Loveless had 53 assists, sophomore outside hitter Julie Mihalek posted 21 digs and junior co-captain and middle back Kristin Vogt had 17 kills and seven blocks. Johnson had 24 kills and 22 digs.

“I think we played tough defense in all three matches this weekend, especially against Webster,” Czarniak said. “Our games against Webster and Vassar were well fought, but the little mistakes we made ended up making the difference, and we couldn’t pull out a win in either match.”

The Vassar match was decided 30-23, 30-26, 20-30, 19-30, 20-22. Loveless anchored the offense with 59 assists and 29 digs, Vogt had 16 kills and 12 blocks, Johnson had 29 kills and 33 digs and Carr added 28 digs.

Bristol attributed the losses to a lack of focus as the matches progressed. “We started out strong, confident and very intense and for some reason, as the games progressed, it was like everyone lost any motivation or aggressiveness they had out on the court,” she said.

“This weekend was very frustrating with those two tough losses, but we can only learn from it and make ourselves better,” Loveless said.

The team is trying to maintain a positive attitude and learn from their losses. “This weekend has taught us that we need to be tougher on the court, and as a team we are going to demand more of each other,” Loveless said. “I think the attitude as a whole on the team has already improved from this weekend and will only get better from now on.”

Bristol said she believes the team’s future success is dependent on attitude. “Everyone on the team is going to have a tougher, meaner, more aggressive attitude that’s going to enable us to fight harder and longer for the remainder of our season,” she said. “Our communication is improving and knowing the importance of forcing each other to play our position and do our job is helping everyone.”

Attitude will be important as the Yellowjackets head into this weekend’s state tournament at St. Lawrence University. UR is ranked eighth, but the team believes they can finish much higher – maybe third or fourth, according to Czarniak. “We have the ability to do extremely well, it’s just a matter of being focused and having the desire to win,” she said.

Loveless agreed. “We hope to represent UR well in the state tournament this weekend and have nothing to lose going into it,” she said. “We know what we have to do to win, it’s just a matter of staying focused, being tough and getting the job done.”

This weekend’s tournament marks the final regular season matches. The UAA tournament will start Nov. 7 at New York University. “This weekend at states, it will be important for us to play our game, not worrying about the team on the other side of the net,” Bristol said. “As long as we stay focused on our individual and team jobs, keep talking loud and helping each other out, it’s going to be a great couple of weeks ending out my last season here.”

Czarniak is hopeful about the outcome of the final matches. “If we can pull it together, which I know we can, we can compete with anybody,” she said.

Nazareth College beat the Yellowjackets 3-1 Wednesday night. The Yellowjackets had beaten the Golden Flyers 3-2 in the semifinals of the SUNY Oneonta tournament earlier in the season. Johnson lead UR with seventeen kills and eleven digs. Sophomore Haley Massa contributed with eight kills and 14 digs and Czarniak had seven kills. The Golden Flyers quickly jumped to a 2-0 lead with scores of 30-19 and 30-23 before UR took a game with a score of 26-30. Nazareth took the last game 30-26 to improve their record to 24-8. The Yellowjackets fell to 20-12 overall. The volleyball team finishes up the season with the New York State and UAA Championships next week.

Taylor can be reached at ktaylor@campustimes.org.



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