The Slippery Rock University Volleyball team opened their season this past weekend competing in the PSAC/MEC Crossover Tournament.
The team showed flashes of greatness, yet also some areas in need of improvement, registering a 2-2 record over the weekend.
On Friday, The Green and White got their season rolling and played their first game against West Virginia State (4-4). Slippery Rock looked fresh and up to the challenge, ultimately defeating their MEC opponents, 3-1. SRU took the first and second set by a score of 25-21 and 27-25. West Virginia State rallied in the third set, squeaking out a 27-25 score, forcing a 4th set. Slippery Rock would go on to slam the door shut on the Yellow Jackets’ hope of a comeback, by winning the 4th and final set by a score of 28-26.
Sophomore Stephanie Jacobsen impressed by leading all players with 14 kills, good for her career best. Senior Shayla Ray produced a team-high .389 attack percentage and managed to gather 10 kills on 18 attempts. SRU was able to rack up 11 aces as well, which is the team’s third-highest total over the last two seasons.
After an impressive outing against West Virginia State, Slippery Rock turned attention to its second matchup of the day, Shepherd University (4-1). Despite a hard-fought match, SRU would drop the match, 3-1, although the final score of the game does not tell the full story.
The Rock and The Rams traded blows for much of the first three sets. After finding themselves trailing 23-20 in the first set, SRU did not roll over and accept a loss, as the team rattled off four straight points. The game would go on to then be tied at 24, following a kill by Shepherd. SRU would ultimately capitalize on a serving error by The Rams following a kill from freshman Gabby Huck giving SRU the first set with a score of 26-24.
In the second set, Slippery Rock and Shepherd found themselves in a similar situation, with SRU controlling a 19-18 edge. This time, it would be The Rams turn to take control late in the set, rattling off 6 straight points, to give Shepherd a 24-19 lead. It was encouraging to see that SRU once again did not give up, scoring three straight points to cut Shepherd’s lead down to 2. Unfortunately, the 5 point Rams lead proved too much for SRU to overcome, as Cambria Hill registered a kill to give Shepherd the 25-22 victory.
Now with the score tied 1-1, Slippery Rock came out swinging in the third set, tying The Rams at 13 at one point, but Shepherd would pull away from The Green and White and took the set with a final score of 25-18. Slippery Rock would go on to lead for a majority of the 4th set, but could not hang on to the lead, as Shepherd would take the 4th set, 25-20, handing The Rock their first loss of the season.
After finishing 1-1 on Friday, Rock Volleyball went into Saturday’s competition looking to improve their record against Urbana (4-4).
After falling behind early, SRU struggled to get anything going, as Urbana took the first set 25-14. Slippery Rock and Urbana went back and forth early in the second set, with the score being tied 11-11, but The Blue Knights would pull away, orchestrating a 10-2 run, giving the team a 21-13 lead en route to an eventual 25-16 victory.
Down two sets, The Rock battled hard to keep the match alive, at one point tying the match at 19 points, but was unable to hold on as Urbana won the set 25-22, clinching the victory and sending Slippery Rock to a 1-2 record.
Heading into the fourth and final game of the weekend, Rock Volleyball had something to prove as they went up against Charleston (1-7). After suffering two consecutive losses, Slippery Rock flashed its resilience and heart as they got into a dogfight with The Golden Eagles.
Slippery Rock fell into a 2 set deficit early, as attack errors plagued the team in the first set, giving Charleston the 25-18 win. The two teams would continue to fight back and forth for the lead in the second set, but Charleston would eventually emerge victorious by the narrowest of margins, outlasting The Rock 25-23.
At this point, it is very easy for any team to roll over and accept defeat, especially coming off two consecutive losses. But as Coach Lokash said, this team has talent and potential to go out there and compete with the best of them.
SRU avoided a second straight-set loss by taking control of the third set and never looking back. The Rock took a commanding lead early, and never looked back, winning the set by an impressive score of 25-13.
The Green and White would merge victorious for a second straight set, and would overcome a deficit as large as six points, winning the fourth set by a score of 25-23, tying the match at 2-2.
On the cusp of victory, SRU would not let this opportunity go to waste, as each point matters in the fifth set which is only played to 15 points, instead of the usual. Slippery Rock gained an early lead in the fifth set and never surrendered it to Charleston, winning the final set of the weekend 5-2.
Notable stats from this game included Senior Beth Stumpf tying with Shayla Ray for the team lead in kills (7), Junior Zoey Rivet had a match-high 25 assists and Sophomore Jalyn Willard made 14 digs.
Slippery Rock (2-2) will now turn its attention to the Atlantic Region Crossover this upcoming weekend. The first of the four games will occur on Friday, September 7th at 1 PM in Wheeling, West Virginia against Fairmont State (3-3).