Tuesday’s matchup between Sam Houston State and Northwestern State shined a light on a few areas that need improvement moving forward in the final stages of Southland Conference competition.
Although the Bearkats defeated the Demons in four sets, they are focusing on one match and one day at a time.
SHSU broke down in the third set, which has been a consistent habit throughout the season.
Defensively, the Bearkats could not pass a ball on serve receive. After Jordyn Vaughn had an attack error early in the set, NSU’s outside hitter Stacey DiFrancesco went on an 11-0 serving run.
Head coach Brenda Gray said when they watched film on NSU playing University of Central Arkansas, three out of the six players served a short ball. Taking note of their tendencies, the Bearkats practiced receiving short serves all this week leading up to the game. When it came time for the actual match, not one player from the NSU roster served short. The balls were going deep and high over the net.
It took a while for SHSU to adjust to their serves, which could have played a role in the many dropped balls on serve receive or the shanked passes the Bearkats had, Gray said.
SHSU’s sophomore libero Claire Kilpatrick was pulled out in the third after losing her rhythm.
While other Bearkats on the floor were trying to pick up her slack, their own jobs were not getting done. Gray explained after the game against NWU how it’s a team sport and how everybody has to play their own position because when one tries to pick up the slack of another, another side is thrown off.
Communication hindered the Bearkats from picking up some of the balls on serve receive because the ball would fall right in between two players.
Serving was an important key factor and also a problem for the Bearkats. They could not find a consistent rhythm behind the serving line.
After SHSU connected with the ball, more and more balls were being served and service aces were produced, especially in the fourth set.
Freshman outside hitter Brooke White saw an opportunity to help out her team, down in the third set. She said she knew her team needed a spark to get them back in the game, so she did her best to go out swinging and doing as much as she could.
When things get tough and the Bearkats are stuck in a hole, the Kats have struggled to recuperate and come back to win that set because everyone is focused on their own game instead of the team and match.
The Bearkats must improve their obvious weaknesses from Tuesday’s match because they have a quick turn-around and play host on Thursday against Southeastern Louisiana.
Trying to continue the 10-0 home winning streak and trying to secure a top spot in the SLC tournament, SHSU is not letting up.
Only five matches remain and Gray questions her team if they cannot bring it for five more matches, then what are they even doing here.
First serve for tonights’s match is set for 6:30 p.m.