The Slippery Rock University volleyball team (16-13) lost their fifth game in a row last Saturday against California University of Pennsylvania (23-8).
Cal U defeated SRU in four sets (25-16, 25-22, 26-24, 25-13).
After beginning the season with a 16-8 record, the Rock has lost five games in a row (all at home).
“We’re a very young team, with an average of 5-6 different freshman playing in a game in position,” SRU head coach Laurie Lokash said. “It’s a lot of inexperience, and we’re just playing good teams.”
In the game against Cal U, the Rock tallied 39 kills, six blocks, and 89 digs. The Green and White was led by senior outside hitter Kristy Lake, with 10 kills and 22 digs. Freshman opposition Emily Sokolowski had eight kills and two digs, freshman outside hitter Bethany Pike had seven kills and two digs, and freshman outside hitter Lamija Allisic had eight kills and 13 digs. Freshman defensive specialist Kristen C. Smith had 21 digs.
Cal U held a block advantage of 16.5-6, which Lokash attributes to the size of their players.
“They’re a little bit bigger than we are, and their middles outsize our middles by a lot,” Lokash said. “In reality, our block may not have the same numbers, but it may be as effective as what we’re trying to do with it.”
The first and fourth set were dominated by Cal u, but the Rock were in the second and third set. While SRU only won the third set, they were close to winning the second set as well.
“It’s inexperience, with us playing so many young kids right now, we’re not necessarily as seasoned as we could be,” Lokash said. ” There’s a fatigue factor that sets in. We were flat in practice last week and in our games. I think they’re probably mentally and physically tired. We’ve been going since August without a break.”
Lokash said it’s hard for freshman to adapt to the level of play at the college level at first.
“When you’ve got so many freshman playing, they have to adapt to a high level,” Lokash said. “It’s hard to maintain that level when you’re not used to having to maintain that level.”
The Rock has two games left this season, with Clarion University on Friday and Indiana University of Pennsylvania on Saturday. Both games are at home, with the Clarion game at 7 p.m. and the IUP game at 2 p.m.
The Green and White are currently seventh in the PSAC-West standings, and there is no way for them to make the playoffs. Clarion (27-3) is first in the PSAC-West standings, with Gannon University (24-3) and Seton Hill (27-4) University in the second and third spots.
“When you’re in the PSAC-West, you’re playing the best teams in the region,” Lokash said. “It’s just that the competition has taken an upswing, and there are the strongest teams in the region.”
Lokash said she hopes that her team will have a strong finish to the season.
“We want to establish ourselves as people that have to be taken seriously, and these freshman and sophomores are getting a lot of playing time,” Lokash said. “It’s not looking ahead. It’s finishing strong and trying to decide where we go into the offseason.”