After a weekend in Virginia that included disappointing losses to VCU (5-6) and George Washington (5-0), and an encouraging victory over NC A&T State (0-9), the Red heads to Buffalo this weekend for matches against Dayton (4-5), Buffalo (4-5) and Syracuse (8-2).
The Red (2-5) showed some promising signs in last weekend’s tournament.
“I think last weekend was really good for us because we had really long streaks where we played our game and it gave us confidence in what we can do against better known division one teams,” said senior middle blocker Madeleine Przybyl. “I think we competed better. We adapted our system to each person that was on the court and had a more unified effort.”
Certain niches especially showed improvement.
“Our outside hitters were more consistent, the passing was better and we won some long rallies,” added head coach Sarah Bernson.
However, the weekend tournament also revealed shortcomings in the Red’s play, especially when it came to holding leads and finishing opponents.
“Especially in the VCU match, we were up in the first three sets and we just couldn’t close them out,” Przybyl said. “We need to make smart plays in key situations that will help us finish games ahead.”
“We made key errors at key times,” Bernson added.
The Red also struggled in being disciplined during its game and playing within the system.
“We had longer stretches of discipline than last week, but they weren’t long enough to win the sets,” Bernson said.
The Red also hopes to improve on playing good offense and defense at the same time.
“It’s about putting our offense and defense togethe,” Przybyl said. “We’ll have a great offensive night and not a great defensive night or we’ll have a great defensive night but not a good offensive night. Both offense and defense have to show up on the same night to put it all together.”
This weekend will certainly be a challenge for the Red, who opens play against a Dayton squad that was recently ranked No. 23 in the country. The team moves on to face the hosting Buffalo team and traditional rival Syracuse, which enters the tournament at 8-2. Against Syracuse the Red will attempt to avenge a straight set loss that it suffered at the hands of the Orange last year. With this weekend’s challenges comes an opportunity for the Red to improve upon its game before it begins conference play in two weeks.
“This is an opportunity to challenge us before we start Ivies,” Przybyl said. “This will force us to stick to our system and improve our weaker spots.”
“We’ve gotten better each weekend we’ve played already, so if the trend continues we should play even better this weekend,” Bernson said. “This is an exciting benchmark for us … We have to take these opportunities.”
Despite suffering two straight losing weekends, the atmosphere around the team is positive.
“It’s a duality of confidence and frustration,” Bernson said. “We see that we’re playing better, but there’s frustration that we’re not getting the results we want.”
“Everyone is just biting at the bit,” Przybyl added. “After a full week of practice, any weekend of play is exciting. It’s another opportunity to prove to ourselves and to everyone that we have what it takes.
Original Author: Ben Horowitz