ORU downs Jacks in five-set affair

Shane Koob

Positives are hard for a team to find in a loss, let alone during a six match losing streak. But in last Friday’s loss to Oral Roberts, there were signs of a team ready to turn things around.

“Tonight was the first time in two weeks I’ve seen my old team back on the court,” head coach Phil McDaniel said.

Heading into the match with Summit-leading Oral Roberts, the Jacks had dropped five straight matches, being swept four times during the losing streak.

The Jacks battled through five sets, but couldn’t overcome another slow start, which has become somewhat of a trend during the six game skid. SDSU couldn’t complete the comeback, falling 3-2 to the Golden Eagles.

ORU came out in set one ready to go to work, pounding out 20 kills as the SDSU defense didn’t have an answer for the ORU attack. The Jacks offense didn’t fare any better, only knocking down eight kills in the first set.

“I don’t know if we get too relaxed at home or what. I haven’t figured it out,” McDaniel said.

Set two was a different story. The Jacks came out firing with a majority of the hitting chances going to Kelly Herrmann on the outside. The teams battled all set long, with 17 tie scores and seven lead changes, before ORU took set two in extra points, 26-24.

With an 0-2 match deficit and facing another sweep, the Jacks kept feeding the ball to Herrmann and things started turning around. In another highly contested set, the Jacks pulled off a 25-23 victory to keep the match alive for one more set.

“We did a lot of things really well that we hadn’t been doing well, especially on blocking,” Herrmann said.

Blocking was the key to the Jacks set three and set four victories, as they registered four and three total blocks in the sets, respectively. SDSU finished with nine total blocks on the night, but none came in the final set.

Herrmann finished with 16 kills and one error in 50 total attacks and also had 14 digs.

“Great night,” McDaniel said. “She did a great job tonight moving the ball around and caught them off guard a bit with her shots down the line, moving the ball across court. Overall just a great job.”

The Jacks now have a 3-5 conference record and find themselves in almost the same circumstances as last year. In 2010, SDSU started the season with a 4-5 record in conference play and sat in the middle of the Summit League standings. Then the Jacks rattled off eight straight conference wins to qualify for the Summit League tournament.

“We tried not to put ourselves in that position again, but we kind of did,” Herrmann said. “We just have to be able to cut down on our errors and try to let the other team make the errors, or at least play the ball, which makes a big difference [turning the season around].”

Does this year’s team, facing the same uphill climb, have enough in them to go on a run and make the tournament?

“We have to play with this type of intensity every night. If we do that, we’ll win more than we lose. The thing is, we’ve been missing [the intensity] for the past two weeks. If we get that back, I’m not worried, but we have to make sure we maintain it. If we play that way, I like our chances,” McDaniel said.