By: Melanie DaSilva
The Sacred Heart University women’s volleyball team concluded their non-conference play and began the Northeast Conference (NEC) action on Sept. 22 against Fairleigh Dickinson University. The Pioneers beat Fairleigh Dickinson 3-1.
Following this win, the team took a weekend trip to play against Robert Morris University and Saint Francis University, in Western Pennsylvania from Sept. 29-30.
“The NEC is very strong this year. It’s the strongest I’ve seen it since I’ve been here; which is great,” said head coach Rob Machan.
The team would go on to lose both games on their road trip, moving their record to 1-2 in the NEC to end the September matches. The Pioneers had time to figure out how to stop their losing streak and turn their season in the right direction before returning home on Oct. 6.
Machan believes his players put up a good fight against both teams. They were prepared for the two matches in Pennsylvania, but have since found that constructive improvements are a must.“They came back with a great mindset to practice after the trip to Pennsylvania. We really started getting back into the fundamentals of what makes us successful,” said Machan. “This includes our team energy, our aggressiveness, and our attacking mindset.”
The team has a significant amount of players who are upperclassmen. These players have had years of experience on a competitive college team. They know how to approach each game, as well as how to turn their season around, if need be.
“It was an eye-opening experience to travel all the way to Pennsylvania and end the weekend 0-2,” said senior, Kiki Robinson. “We did a lot of team reconstruction that followingMonday at practice, and I think we have our mindsets more geared toward corrections.”
The Pioneers decided to take matters into their own hands to fix their mistakes, which involved techniques and skill both on the court, and in the weight room. Senior, Makayla Dole, said that the team is focusing more on working on individual goals, which will in the end benefit the team as a whole.
“Even though I am a senior, I still have times where I’m not fully engaged in the moment. I therefore, set goals each day that I hope to accomplish,” noted Doyle. “Step-by-step we need to focus one game at-a-time, one point at-a-time, and make each point have a purpose.”
The team then went on to play four home games, breaking even on the homestand going 2-2. The Pioneers move their record to 3-4 in NEC play and still have seven games left.
“It doesn’t matter who we play,” said Robinson. “Coach Rob tells us all the time that the most important opponent we have is that of ourselves at this point.”
For the rest of the season the women’s volleyball team hopes to conquer not only their opponents in the NEC, but also themselves. They hope to achieve what they have done in past seasons and work extremely hard to get back to where they were.
“Obviously, our goal is to make the playoffs and win the NEC championship,” said Robinson. “But we do need to stay focused on one game at a time instead of only looking at the big picture.”
The Pioneers continue their chase for the NEC playoffs with their next game at Fairleigh Dickinson on Oct. 20.