Volleyball’s frustrations continue
Published: Monday, September 10, 2012
Updated: Monday, September 10, 2012 21:09
In the midst of what senior outside hitter Alissa Alker called a frustrating season, the Delaware volleyball team returned home for the 36th annual University of Delaware Invitational. The team won the tournament in 2010, but struggled this year, losing to Columbia and Texas A&M on Friday and Xavier on Saturday.
“Texas A&M got top 25 votes, they’re a good team,” Alker said. “Columbia was probably one of the teams that was more on the same playing field as us. It’s a strong tournament.”
Both Delaware (CAA) and Xavier (Atlantic 10) were picked to finish second in their respective conferences, but entering their match Saturday, the Hens were 1-6, while the Musketeers had a record of 6-4.
Xavier started the first set off by opening up a 10-2 lead. Alker said the Hens had a gameplan for stopping Xavier but were unable to execute it.
“They’re a really good side out team, which means they get the ball back really fast, and we wanted to go in competing,” she said. “There were moments of brilliance, but obviously we couldn’t figure it out.”
Head coach Bonnie Kenny said her team was subpar in several key areas.
“We’ve got to spend a lot more time on our blocks and serve it a little bit more aggressively,” Kenny said.
Down 10-2, the Hens traded points with Xavier, never getting closer than eight points. The Musketeers ended up winning the first set 25-15. Xavier setter Aubree Smith had 10 assists and four digs in the first set. For the Hens, Alker had four kills.
The Musketeers had an attack percentage of 75 to just 45 for the Hens.
The Hens scored the first four points in the second set, a series that senior middle hitter Chelsea Lawrence said the team played best in.
“I just came out and said, ‘We have to win the first couple points,’” Lawrence said. “Because we have not won the first three points in any event we played, so it was nice to start off on top and get a fire under us.”
Kenny agreed that it was their best effort.
However, Xavier did not lead until making it 23-22, but they ended up winning the second set 25-23.
Alker had five kills in the second set, with freshman setter Mackenzie Olsen recording 11 assists—a match-high for either team. Xavier’s Alex Smith had six kills in that set, as the Musketeers had a slightly better attack percentage, 69 to 63.
Seven of the Hens’ 14 players are freshmen, something Lawrence emphasized.
“Especially having a lot of freshmen on the floor, it’s been hard for us to find out how to play together,” Lawrence said.
In the third set, Xavier built an 8-3 lead before a Delaware run made it 12-10 in favor of the Hens.
Unfortunately for the Hens, the Musketeers responded, holding a 16-15 lead before pulling away for 25-18 victory.
For the third set, Aubree Smith had nine assists, while Olsen had six. Once again, Xavier was more efficient than Delaware, finishing with an attack percentage of 57 in the set, compared to 41 for the Hens.
The win gave the Musketeers a second-place finish in the Delaware Invitational, with Texas A&M taking the top spot. The Aggies did not lose a set in the tourney.
Delaware freshman libero Ariel Shonk was the only Hen named to the six-person All-Tournament Team. Shonk finished with 50 digs in the tournament, with Olsen recording 94 assists. Alker had 31 kills, while Lawrence had 15.
Kenny said she enjoyed the Delaware Invitational, calling it an excellent atmosphere. She also said she hopes the team can perform better as the host in future events.
Though the team is now 1-7, Alker said she is confident the team can still win the CAA.
“We’re not what we look like on paper,” she said. “Although we’re losing, we’re progressing as a team, which is our goal for preseason. What matters is conference [play].”
The Hens play Georgetown at home on today and have their first CAA game on Sept. 21 against Towson. However, Kenny is more concerned with the problems at home.
“To be honest with you, I can’t spend a whole lot of time worrying about Georgetown,” Kenny said. “I have to worry about Delaware and we got a lot to worry about.”