Opinion: Volleyball faces conference challenges near end of season

Clara Harrington, Sports Editor [email protected]

As women’s volleyball (14-12, 6-8 American Athletic Conference) enters its final weeks of conference play, the team readies itself for a slew of challenging league competition. Despite some recent fallbacks, the team is persevering with confidence as its fall season continues.

Most recently, Tulane was swept by Temple in the Avron B. Fogelman Arena in Devlin Fieldhouse. Temple is currently tied for second place in the AAC, with an 11-3 record in conference play. Preceding the game, Tulane, which is tied for sixth in the AAC, had not been swept in a conference game all season.

After a close first set, in which Tulane fell to Temple 26-24, the team was unable to bounce back in the second and third sets, falling victim to a sweep by the Owls.

“That was probably our worst performance of the year, so I know the girls are ready to rebound and be ready to play these two home matches here this Wednesday and Friday,” head coach Jim Barnes said.

Though the team recently faced a disappointing loss, women’s volleyball has had a strong season thus far with wins against tough AAC competitors. On Friday, Nov. 4, the team triumphed over UConn in three sets. The 3-1 victory over UConn was due in large part to strong performances from the team’s middles, as well as junior setter Justine Bowers.

Women’s volleyball has been playing most of its conference games without its starters, including sophomore outside hitter Hannah Shaw. With all of its players returning to the court, the team should see improvements in its upcoming matches.

“We’re healthy now, so we’re hoping this month we can make a nice run,” Barnes said.

Another challenge for the team is identifying clear leaders. Though the team members have grown together over the fall and continue to work well as a cohesive unit, the team has not seen any specific leading players emerge throughout the season.

“We’ve had good leadership, but I wouldn’t say we’ve had great leadership,” Barnes said. “We’ve had great chemistry, great work ethic, all those things you need to have a chance to win, and we’re hoping to see some seniors really emerge here in the last month of their career.”

The team continues to aim high for the rest of the season, with the goal of ultimately reaching the next level through standout performances in the last three weeks of conference play.

As the team prepares for its final weeks of the season, its main focuses are staying consistent, cleaning up the team’s offense and defense and improving continuously.

“We’re trying to get more consistent within our offensive and our defensive game,” Barnes said. “…As a team, when we’re playing consistent, we can beat anybody. That’s the whole key for us.”

The team will take on the University of Memphis at 7 p.m. Friday at Devlin.