After an 8-0 start, the Slippery Rock volleyball team has cooled off substantially, losing eight in a row, including two this past weekend against Millersville and Shippensburg.
The first contest versus Millersville was a close one. The Rock blew out the marauders in the first set 25-16 behind powerful outside hitting, headlined by senior Brooke Bostwick and freshman Erinn Kahoe. Kahoe led the Rock with 13 kills, while Bostwick posted ten while also leading the charge on defense with three blocks.
“We started off strong with some good shots from the outside, but we have to be more mindful with our reads,” Slippery Rock head coach Laurie Lokash said.
The second set was a complete turn of the tables, as the marauders crushed SRU 25-15. Lokash cited mental mistakes as the reason the Green and White fell.
“We defnitely made some mistakes and had some unforced errors.” Lokash said.
The third and fourth sets were traded between the two teams, as Millersville won the third set 25-21, and SRU won the fourth 25-22. Slippery Rock was helped by their always reliable defensive sources, as sophomore setter Zoe Rivet contributed 31 assists, and all-PSAC senior defensive specialist Courtney Oberlander had 30 digs. Rivet also led the team in aces with three, and senior setter Haley Defibaugh finished with the second most assists and digs (16 and 19, respectively.)
Slippery Rock also found assistance from the bench in two outside hitters, senior Lamija Alisic and freshman Stephanie Jacobsen. Jacobsen was second on the team in kills with 11, and also added two blocks and five digs. Alisic, who had only appeared in more than two sets twice before Friday, set a career high in digs with 14, and also added five kills and an ace in four sets.
“She’s worked through a lot of different things, she stayed fairly aggressive, had some good serves, and played some pretty good defense,” Lokash said. “She came off the bench and did a great job.”
The game came down to a close fifth set that was tooth-and-nail the whole way throughout, but the Green and White faded at the conclusion, falling 15-11 for their seventh loss of the year.
“Somebody has got to win those rallies. We hit too much into the double block, we need to find a way around those double blocks, it’s not a smart thing to hit directly in to it,” Lokash said. “Any hitter has to have two shots in mind when they go up, because if the first one goes away, you need to be able to act without thinking.”
Hoping to wash away the previous night’s loss, SRU returned to the court Saturday afternoon versus the Shippensburg raiders. Despite solid contributions again from Bostwick (10 kills, five blocks) and Oberlander (15 digs, four assists), the Green and White were out of their element for the majority of the afternoon, losing in straight sets 25-18, 25-18, and 25-22.
“We go even and then they go up a couple points on us, they had more couple-point runs than we did. They had one or two per set and we had one or two per match,” Lokash said. “It might be a failure in execution, or they may have had a good player who just beat our blocks.”
Slippery Rock ended up being outmatched in every statistical category besides blocks (8-5), with notable categories being points (58-40), assists (48-29) and digs (61-52). Losing in straight sets is never fun, and Lokash stated some of the reasons as to why that happened.
“We needed a supporting cast, we need more out of our outsides [hitters] right now. They just aren’t getting enough steam on the ball in order to make it challenging for the other team.” Lokash said.
Slippery Rock will continue their four-game homestand this weekend, with a game Friday against California (Pa.) at 7 p.m., and another home game Saturday versus Seton Hill at 1 p.m.