And so began the second half of the conference season!
Here’s how the Lone Star Conference standings were at the turn.
Most of the prior week’s results were basically true to form. The one surprise was UT Permian Basin beating Texas Woman’s (in 5). That was a good result for us as it kept TW from moving onto level terms with us.
We have some work to do in the second half, though. While it’s no guarantee, beating the three teams below us in the standings likely gets us into the conference tournament. Ideally, however, we want to be in no worse than 6th position by season’s end. That would get us away from Angelo and Tarleton in the first round.
It was a relatively short session, not very high on the intensity scale. We did some station-based ball-handling work during the first 25 minutes. Mostly it was over-the-net pepper, but we had a couple of defense stations mixed in as well. From there we shifted to a serve & pass game.
The core of practice was an offense vs. defense exercise. The offensive team was in reception and had to score two points in a row – basically meaning a kill. If they got a good attack, but not a kill, it was a wash. If they lost the rally, they went back to zero. Much of what we wanted to do was work on running our OHs on some different types of sets.
That carried over into a wash game to finish. Every rally started with a serve. Whoever won the serve rally got a setter-out ball. A team had to win both balls to score a point. If, however, a team won the initial rally via an OH kill from something other than a set to the pin, they automatically won the point. We played a game to 10.
Round 2 of conference play began with a chance for redemption against Texas A&M Commerce at home after suffering that loss from a 2-0 position a couple weeks back. This match went eerily similarly to the last one.
We won the first two sets, 23 and 21. Then we completely laid an egg in the third – at least for the first half the set – and lost 25-17. We took the opportunity to give our starting setter and one of our OHs a bit of a break during the latter stages of the set. The fourth was tighter, but we lost that one as well, 25-22. That set was just two teams hammering on each other as we had 16 kills and they had 20. The fifth set was pretty sloppy. We were a little less so, though, as we hit .087 compared to their -.094. The end result was a much needed 15-9 win.
Both of our MBs were over .300 in their hitting percentages. We had five players with double-digit digs and four with double-digit points. For the first time in a long while, our point scoring percentage was at 50%. Unfortunately, our sideout percentage was also at 50%, which is a few points below our usual rate.
This was a low jump session for the players after Tuesday’s match. We were in our secondary gym, which allows us to do two courts, but with limited service area – especially on one side. We started them off with 3s pepper over the net with the third contact a down ball. On one court the down balls went cross court. On the other, they were hit straight. We did four rotations of that. After that, we did target serving.
Next up was Continuous Cross-Court Digging. We had the hitters amp things up and swing more aggressively. It was some much needed work on digging harder hit balls. That’s an area of developmental need for the team.
After that it was some servers vs. passers games. In this variation the servers got points for hitting target zones, but lost points for serving to 6, missing in the net, or missing back-to-back serves. The receiving team scored points for good passes. One game comprised each team having a chance to serve and receive, combining their points for an aggregate score.
The last part of practice as Speedball style 4s – first back row only, then anything goes.
This was a travel day. The players lifted in the morning, but no practice.
We were on the road against UTPB.
The match went basically as expected. We won relatively easily 3-0. The good thing was we saw improvement from the first time we played them. Back when we played in our gym we hit .198, had two blocks, and 27 digs. This time we hit .257, had 6 blocks and 47 digs.
West Texas was the opposition for this match.
Unfortunately, we couldn’t keep the string going. Our passing broke down. Naturally, that meant our offense sputtered. Plus, we were against a good defensive team. The result was sub-.100 hitting for the match. We didn’t do a particularly good job of stopping them either, as they hit .273. Not surprisingly, it was a fairly one-sided match. On the plus side, we got 7 blocks. That’s well above our season average from a per set perspective.
The West Texas match is the second in as many weeks where we had a major break down in serve reception. Clearly, that’s something which needs attention.