The Slippery Rock University volleyball team looked in tune this weekend, as they put together two consecutive home victories this weekend, keeping their playoff hopes alive. The Green and white grinded out several close sets this weekend, which paid dividends in the end. In the eight total sets The Rock played this weekend, The Rock was 5-1 in sets that were decided by five points or less. With two pivotal victories, SRU improved to an overall record of 9-12 and 6-7 in PSAC play.
Coming off a tough loss in their last game against powerhouse Gannon University, Slippery Rock seemed to be unphased on Friday night, as they took on the Bloomsburg Huskies. It was evident from the first set, that both teams were in for a dogfight, as SRU and Bloomsburg traded points for a large majority of the first set. Ultimately, Slippery Rock was its own toughest opponent in the first set, as they committed 13 errors, opening the door for a 25-22 first set win for the Huskies.
The back and forth affair continued in the second set, as both teams struggled to get an edge over the other. Late in the set, both squads found themselves in a 20-20 stalemate. Slippery Rock, however, would emerge victorious, putting together a 5-2 run to even the match at 1-1, registering a 25-22 victory of their own.
Rolling off the momentum of the 5-2 run late in the second set, The Rock put together their best set of the evening. Slippery Rock held a lead throughout the entire third set, posting a .310 team attack percentage on their way to a 25-18 victory.
In the fourth set, Slippery Rock fought for a victory as Bloomsburg battled with all they had to avoid a 3-1 loss. In the end, however, SRU’s relentless attack was too much for the Huskies to handle. After exchanging blows for the length of the set, Slippery Rock would take the last three points of the set, to secure a 28-26 fourth set victory, which effectively ended the match.
After a decisive victory against the Huskies, Coach Lokash gave some insight to her team’s mindset heading into a conceivably winnable match against a struggling Bloomsburg squad. “Our biggest concern was the fact that we were playing a team that did not necessarily have the best record, so it can be easy to underestimate the opponent,” Lokash said. “We were trying to play our game and set the pace, in that case, instead of letting the other team do their thing.”
Slippery Rock did just that on Friday night, by dictating the pace of the game and not falling into the much-maligned trap game. After a big home win against Bloomsburg, The Rock refocused for a Saturday afternoon battle against the Lock Haven Bald Eagles.
The story of Saturday’s game was another slew of closely contested, competitive sets. In the opening set, both teams tried to gain an advantage over the other, being tied at 15 midway through the set. The Rock would put their foot on the gas pedal and not let off for the rest of the first set, however, as the green and White would take the next 10 of 16 points to secure a 25-21 first set victory.
Slippery Rock started off quick again in the second set, opening a 9-6 lead early over Lock Haven, but the latter would battle back to eventually take a 15-14 lead later in the set. The home team would show their ability to strike fast as they would score the next six points, making the Bald Eagles’ 15-14 lead a distant memory. The Rock would never look back after reclaiming the lead, taking the second set by a score of 25-20.
In the third set, Lock Haven would storm out of the gates, playing a high tempo game with a lot of energy. Slippery Rock struggled to keep pace with a desperate Lock Haven team and would go on to drop the third set by a score of 25-17.
The fourth set was arguably the most intense set The Rock played in this past weekend, as Lock Haven seemed to have the momentum for much of the set, threatening to tie the match at two sets apiece. The bald eagles soared to an early 9-5 lead, but The Rock was able to claw its way back into the set, scoring the next four points, tying it at nine. The two teams would tie again at 14, and again at 20 when Coach Lokash called a timeout.
After the timeout, the Green and White seemed to be rejuvenated and looking to deliver the coup de grace to the Bald Eagles. Both teams would battle back and forth, but The Rock fed off the home crowd’s energy and closed the set out with a final score of 26-24, clinching the victory.
Saturday’s triumph over Lock Haven improved SRU’s home record to an impressive 5-2. Next up, The Rock has a great opportunity to catapult themselves into playoff contention as they take on West Liberty University on Tuesday’s Dig for the Cure at Morrow Field House.
When asked how The Rock can keep the momentum going against an unfamiliar opponent, Coach Lokash plans to slow down the Hill Toppers potent offensive attack. “The way to slow teams down like West Liberty that thrive in hitting balls is to try to take away how fast they play the game,” Lokash said. “To do that, we are going to need to serve effectively and aggressively and have them pass in ones and twos.”
The Rock has improved drastically over the past two weeks, and Tuesday night against a formidable opponent will certainly serve as a proving ground for the battle-tested Slippery Rock squad.