The Slippery Rock University volleyball team dropped a pair of games against two very different opponents over the weekend. Mercyhurst has the second-worst win percentage in the entire Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (.318, 7-15 overall), and Gannon with the best (.826, 19-4 overall.)
Game one was versus Mercyhurst on Friday night. Slippery Rock started out with a narrow 25-21 loss in the first set, followed by an intense set that ended in a Rock win 26-24.
Slippery Rock made a change to their offense recently, which took sophomore setter and team assist leader Zoe Rivet out of the starting rotation, and it showed with her only having ten assists over the weekend, not even appearing in the game versus Mercyhurst.
“We went to a three middle offense, and Zoe had a little bit of a rough time,” Head coach Laurie Lokash said. “She is a really nice kid. To be the setter, you gotta be the quarterback and when she makes that step, she’s going to be a lot better.”
With the new system, more pressure was put on senior setter Haley Defibaugh, and she soared. Defibaugh recorded 46 assists and 17 digs; Defibaugh ranks second and fourth on the team in those categories respectively.
“Haley is a really, really good defensive player. From that standpoint, it makes us stronger,” Lokash said. “Haley runs the team, she is a little bit more stern and more demanding of the players.”
Slippery Rock dropped the final two sets to Mercyhurst 25-17 and 25-18, with the main problem being offensive hitting. SRU did not have a single player over 15 kills on the weekend. Freshman outside hitter Stephanie Jacobsen led the team with 15 kills, followed by senior middle hitter Brooke Bostwick with 13.
“There were a lot of unforced errors,” Lokash said. “They gave us one error, and we gave them two. Not only physically, but mentally we made a lot of unforced errors.”
Bostwick continued to be a force on both sides of the net, also leading the team in blocks with six. That number moved Bostwick up to 74 blocks on the season, tied for ninth in the PSAC.
The Green and White faired much more bleakly against the first-place Gannon Knights. They fell in straight sets, 25-15, 25-17 and 25-21.
One of the only bright spots was senior defensive specialist Courtney Oberlander, who accrued 19 digs in the contest and 46 over the weekend. Those numbers moved Oberlander into fifth all-time at SRU in digs.
The other solid defensive performer was freshman defensive specialist Jalyn Willard. Willard had 13 digs and four aces; she has 14 total aces this year, third on the team.
Not a single SRU player had more than seven kills versus Gannon, contributing majorly to the team’s poor performance.
“We have to be consistent,” Lokash said. “We have to play with a little bit more heart, sometimes we have some people playing with heart and some people playing more timid. You got to dare to be great.”
Other notable performances included junior middle hitter Shayla Ray (11 kills, three blocks), freshman middle hitter Erinn Kahoe (eight kills, one ace) and sophomore outside hitter Kayley Fucci ( 11 kills, 16 digs.)
The losses dropped SRU to 9-14 on the year and 1-10 in conference play. Slippery Rock will hope to pick up a win versus an 0-19 Cheyney squad at 7 p.m. Friday in the team’s annual dig for the cure game. Slippery Rock also plays West Chester at home Saturday at 1 p.m.