BY Jordan Banks
The Sacred Heart Women’s Volleyball team has been on a tear in the last month. After starting out the season winning only four of their first 12 games. The team followed that up by winning ten of their next thirteen games, including an eight-game win streak mixed in the middle.
The spark of that streak came after a loss to Robert Morris way back on Oct. 5. In that time the Pioneers had only won two of their last six games.
“We were always in very close games until the very end leading up to the Robert Morris game, it was just one or two plays that didn’t go our way,” said head coach Rob Machan. “So, after the game, the team made some decisions to try to turn their season around and increase their level of trust. This is a competitive group of girls, so we just tried to remain positive.”
At that point in time Sacred Heart was vying for early conference position and looked to take down a Robert Morris team who was undefeated in conference play.
“We talked for a really long time after the game,” said senior Julia Murawinski. “At that point in time, not a lot of us were on the same page, we all had the same end goal, but we wanted to have an honest conversation.”
With 12 of their last 13 games being conference games, there was still a chance the Pioneers could turn their season around.
“In the following practices, we tried to have our mentality be on the same page,” said redshirt sophomore Reghan Palanchi. “Everyone was a different competitor and we had to learn to understand that together and work with it.”
The Pioneers responded by winning the next eight games in a row.
“We knew we had a lot of ways to score not just by kills, we also could use our block and minimize our risks,” said Machan. “Overall, we decided to trust our block and defense to get points and put more pressure on teams by minimizing those errors.”
In those eight games, Sacred Heart ended up winning six of those games in straight sets and winning those sets by an average of eight points.
“The biggest difference between in their play was they made better decisions on the court,” said Machan. “They did a better job executing at the end of sets.”
This execution and decision making propelled Sacred Heart into third place overall with four games left, all of which are conference games.
“We try to focus on our next opponent as the most important, and to not get too ahead of ourselves,” said Machan. “If you look too far ahead, that’s when the game that you really should be paying attention to catches up to you and you end up getting beaten.”
Their very last game of the regular season on November 16 will be against Bryant who is currently in second place. If Sacred Heart can win the rest of their games, they will have a shot a taking that spot away from Bryant.
“We try not to worry about who is on the court,” said Palanchi. “We just want to play the same way we’ve been playing and to stay consistent.”