The Slippery Rock University volleyball team returned home to the Morrow Field House this past weekend to take on two PSAC opponents, looking to get the season back on track. Slippery Rock would emerge victorious on Friday, completing an epic comeback against Kutztown (6-7, 0-4 PSAC) to win in 5 sets, erasing a five-game losing streak. On Saturday, The Rock faced off against a tough opponent in East Stroudsburg (14-2, 4-0 PSAC). The Green and White battled hard but fell short in the end, falling to an overall record of 4-8 on the season.
On Friday night, the SRU volleyball team hosted their first home game of the season, as the Golden Bears came into town. In the first set, The Rock and Kutztown went back and forth, but ultimately Slippery Rock would maintain a slight edge halfway through the set, leading the latter by a score of 12-11. Kutztown responded with a big run that SRU seemingly had no answer for and was outscored 11-4, creating a deficit of 22-16. Slippery Rock showed some life late in the set, rattling off 4 points, cutting the lead down to two. Kutztown would shut down SRU’s hopes of coming back in the first set, winning the set, 25-21.
The second set belonged to Kutztown as they took a commanding 6-0 lead early and kept the pressure on for the rest of the set. Slippery Rock battled and made the score close once again at the end, but Kutztown would hang on to secure a 25-20 victory, sending The Rock into an 0-2 deficit.
Looking to avoid a straight-set shutout and sixth consecutive loss, the third set would be the start of a magnificent comeback for The Rock. Kutztown and SRU traded blows for much of the set, with both teams at a stalemate with a score of 15-15. Slippery Rock finished the third set strong, scoring 10 of the last 16 points, winning the set 25-17.
Slippery Rock did not back down as momentum was on their side for the remainder of the match. During the fourth set, SRU and Kutztown traded points for most of the set, but the Green and White would come out victorious in the end, winning the set by a score of 25-21.
The two-set deficit was now a distant memory as Slippery Rock looked to produce the kill shot to end the match. The Rock claimed six of the first eight points and never surrendered the lead again. The Rock would coast to a 15-12 win securing the comeback. Coach Lokash was impressed with the return of Kayla Fucci, who played a key role in The Rock’s win.
“So far this season, we have been looking for a little bit of consistency, we’ve been trying to put a finger on a solid starting lineup,” Lokash said. “Fucci has been out of the lineup for about two weeks due to a concussion, she’s a key player in the lineup and we were able to put something together with her in there.”
Kayla Fucci produced several key kills in the game against Kutztown, setting a new career high in kills as well. To complement her performance on Friday, Fucci came to play on Saturday, as Slippery Rock took on East Stroudsburg.
Coming off an emotionally charged comeback against Kutztown University, The Rock faced a tall task against ESU. Even though The Warriors defeated SRU by a score of 3-1, it was very evident that the final score did not tell the full story of the match, as Slippery Rock lost each of those three sets by a combined nine points.
In the first set, ESU and The Rock went back and forth, sitting at a 6-6 tie through the first 12 points of the set. East Stroudsburg would pull forward and gain a 12-9 advantage before Slippery Rock stormed back to take a 17-13 lead, forcing the Warriors to take a timeout. East Stroudsburg would battle back, however, slowly chipping away at The Rock’s four-point lead and eventually erasing the lead altogether, tying the game at 23. SRU could not hang on as ESU took the first set 25-23.
The second set would have a similar storyline as SRU held a 24-21, but ESU would not let The Rock cruise to a win in the second set. The Warriors would finish Slippery Rock off 27-25, sending SRU to another 0-2 deficit.
The Green and White dominated the third set storming out to a 6-3 lead and never relinquished it. The Rock won the third set handily with a score of 25-17.
East Stroudsburg answered in the fourth set and put Slippery Rock’s comeback hopes to rest. ESU held a commanding lead for much of the set, winning the set 25-20, and clinching the match with a final score of 3-1.
Slippery Rock competed against one of the better teams in the PSAC, surrendering a lead in two of the four sets. If SRU were to win one of the first two sets at least, it is very conceivable that The Rock could have pulled off the upset against East Stroudsburg. Coach Lokash gave some insight on what could have been done differently to finish strong on those close sets.
“We got very tentative and quit communicating. We had some young kids on the court and we just stopped communicating, got less aggressive. In those big moments, we need to communicate more, be more aggressive,” Lokash said.
“I think the reason it happens is because when you are out in front, you don’t want to be the one who might make that mistake if you are being that aggressive. You can’t be afraid to make those mistakes, because you can always learn from them and other great things can come from it.”
It is certainly a nerve-wracking thing to even think about the possibility of making a mistake, as it may cost the team, or even one’s playing time in the future. But as one of the greatest players to ever grace the NHL once said, “You miss 100% of the shots that you don’t take.”
Slippery Rock will look to keep the season rolling and put a couple more victories under the team’s belt. The Rock will be back on the road this upcoming weekend as they will take on Seton Hill University (8-5, 2-2 PSAC) on Friday at 7 p.m. and California University (PA.) (10-6, 3-1 PSAC) on Saturday at 1 p.m.