This is an entry in my volleyball coaching log for the 2021-22 season for the Medaille College men.
Here’s how the conference standings looked coming into the week.
The results that got my attention from last week’s action was Penn St-Behrend needing 5 sets to beat St. Vincent, then losing in 5 to Geneva.
Our setter was back in training on Monday, though with limitations. We found out before Tuesday’s practice that he would not be cleared for Wednesday’s match, however. As a result, we focused on continued work with the MB who set all of last week still running the offense. Meanwhile, the setter trained in the OH position for potential future use there.
Back on the road for the relatively short trip to Penn St-Behrend. They were picked in the preseason poll to finish 2nd this year. Interestingly, they were without their 2021 conference Newcomer of the Year. He played in the first 8 matches of the season, but has since been pulled off the roster.
Unfortunately, this match went more like I expected our Hiram match to go. Behrend did a better job than Hiram getting strong swings on the right when we had our libero-turned-OH in the front row. We also just didn’t play well. Our converted setter wasn’t mentally at his best and our hitters made too many errors (9 in the first set alone). It was a lopsided 3-0 loss as a result.
One of the persistent issues of the season has been choppy availability of both players and assistants. This cropped up again for these two sessions as I was down a starter for each session. And normally I’d have an assistant who can set for Friday’s practice, but he couldn’t make it this week. As a result, we didn’t get in the work that I’d really have liked to get done. Regardless, the focus was on bringing our setter back into the offense. I also had the guy who’d deputized the last four matches getting OH reps.
Saturday – St. Vincent
Our first home matches of the conference season came via a tri-match with St. Vincent as the first opponent. They were the new program last season, but had a relatively decent season. The preseason poll put them at #7. Entering the match, their two wins to-date were against Hilbert (in 5) and Mt. Aloysius.
We made harder work of this than necessary, though we did manage a 3-0 result in the end. Part of it was a failure to follow the game plan, which had me quite angry at points. Another was the old bugaboo of too many errors (e.g. 10 hitting errors in the 3rd set). Our MB-turned-S did reasonably well at OH, but for the second match in a row his replacement at MB under-performed offensively (though not defensively). To be fair, we were off in the middle entirely. Fortunately, our two main point scorers racked up the points.
Saturday – Thiel
The second match of the day was against Thiel. They were a quite poor team in 2021, finishing second from last. The squad is clearly improved this season, albeit inexperienced. Preseason voting put them at #6. They too came in with wins over Hilbert and Mt. Aloysius. Very interestingly, they beat Hiram 3-2 on Wednesday, at Hiram. They also came in as the team with the best offensive stats on the season to-date.
Let’s just say we didn’t lower those figures at all.
We only had one truly solid set – the second when it was 26-24. The other two were extremely lopsided. To give you a sense of things, only 3 of our players got more than 1 kill. Our top OH, who is currently #2 in the conference in Kills/Set didn’t get a single one in the first set. We struggled passing a couple of their jump servers, and everything else went from there. We also reverted back to old patterns in terms of missing serves in the net at terrible times.
I should note that I reverted our roles back to where they were before the Setter injury. Partly it was a result of the disappointing recent middle offensive performance. Partly, it was to be better in serve reception. It was also to have a stronger left side block against a team that mainly ran a 6-2.
We’ve got a 2 week break in the action due to the Spring Break period. Our next pair of matches will be on March 19th. That will start a period of 8 matches in 15 days to finish the regular season.
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