Slippery Rock University women’s volleyball capped off sweeping the Pfeiffer University tournament with a statement making performance against the hosting team in Misenheimer, North Carolina on Saturday.
After two days of play, Coach Lokash and her team beat Pfeiffer university 3-0 (25-4, 25-15, 25-17). Lokash said her girls set the pace early in the first set.
“We handled them well,” Lokash said. “Our serving was very aggressive.”
Not letting up at all in the first set, SRU held Pfeiffer to four points. Lokash took the opportunity to start making personnel changes in preparation for the season later. It had no effect as the team still played well and finished out strong to shut the Falcons out.
Outside hitter Leah Jones led The Rock in mostly every match in kills including the final game in which she had 18. Lokash described Jones’ game to be more consistent than in the previous year, which got her all-tournament team honors.
Jones was really looking to step up this year through her play. Even though she is not a captain, she said she still feels that she can be a leader on the team.
“I’m not the most vocal, but I can definitely show leadership on the court through my play,” Jones said.
Jones did not win games alone. She credits the mindset of her teammates, both new and old, for really coming in and stepping up. Jones said that the team lost some people, but the girls that they have are all on the same page on all areas of the court. On the offensive side, Haley Defibaugh had a team high 24 assists in their final match, while Courtney Oberlander led the defensive stops with nine digs.
Coach Lokash said that this well-balanced attack is just the type of team she wants. A lot of teams have one or two good players that you can pick out and call an all-conference player, but she said that cannot be done on this team. She feels there are no true standouts, just a great balance, which she plans to use to her benefit.
“It’s not about stopping one person,” Lokash said. “If we are firing on all cylinders we should be a difficult team to deal with.”
Lokash proved that this strategy could pose successful in the future as the games prior to Pfeiffer, her girls went undefeated. Friday they played UVa-Wise and won 3-1 (25-16, 25-18, 25-21), in which Jones had a team high 16 kills and Defibaugh accumulated 47 assists. Shayla Ray and Jaden Zimmer contributed with 11 and 10 kills respectively. Later on that day, they swept Salem University 3-0 (25-20, 25-11, 25-16) led by another strong Jones attack of 12 kills.
The team came back the next day to beat Johnson C. Smith University 3-0 (25-11, 25-13, 25-18). Brooke Bostwick had 11 kills and Defibaugh led in assist again with 22.
Though a worthy performance, the team knows that the competition they face in the upcoming weekend will be a lot more challenging. Defibaugh knows that they need to play even better than the last tournament.
“We have to start off strong and not take anyone lightly,” Defibaugh said.
This tournament will be the easiest competition they face this year Coach Lokash said. She said this was really scheduled for the girls to gain some confidence, but now it is time for a challenge themselves and get out of their comfort zones with the intent on improving their level of play. Lokash said she was proud of the girls efforts and performance last weekend, but she is not going to let that consume her team and let them get complacent.
“What happened a week ago means nothing in the next tournament,” Lokash said.
The team travels to West Virginia on Friday, Sept. 11 to play in the Davis & Elkins Tournament. The first match is a rematch against UVa-Wise.