The SDSU Jackrabbits volleyball team walked off the court Friday night with the familiar taste of defeat in their mouths following a 3-1 defeat to Summit League rival Oakland.
The Jacks (12-13 overall and 4-8 in the Summit League), adorned in hot pink for breast cancer awareness month, came out on fire to win a highly competitive opening set 26-24. The Jacks much maligned offense was exceptional in the first set with a .256 attack percentage and 15 kills. Star attacker Kelli Fiegen posted a .429 hitting percentage with five kills, the last of which was the winner in the set.
However, the Jacks early fire was quickly cooled as Oakland (12-9, 6-5) ripped SDSU 13-25 in the second set which included a 12-1 scoring run by the Grizzlies.
The Jacks would storm out of the gates early in both the third and fourth sets taking 5-1 and 4-1 leads, respectively, before giving away both by final scores of 23-25 and 21-25 with the match ending on an underwhelming double touch foul.
Fiegen and fellow juniors Kaitlin Klingemann and Kelly Herrmann ended the match having combined for 36 of the teams 44 total kills (Fiegen 15, Klingemann 11 and Herrmann 10) with Fiegen posting an tremendous .429 attack percentage for the match. Sophomore Lexi Fowler anchored the Jacks defense with a career high 22 digs and tallied 38 set assists to post her team-leading eighth double-double of the season.
The loss is the ninth in the last 10 games for the Jacks, but despite once again coming out on the losing end of the outcome, the team had plenty of positives to pull from the rubble of their latest defeat.
The Jackrabbits played with a noticeably higher intensity and energy that had been missing for the past few games and looked to be on pace to return to a more uptempo style of play that the team is comfortable with.
“I think we saw glimpses of it tonight” said Fowler on her teams renewed sense of urgency. “We started out strong enough we just have to follow it up the next few games.”
The Jacks stagnant offensive play, a key catalyst in their losing streak, also saw a definite improvement Friday night as the team finished with a .147 attack percentage, up significantly from the disappointing .098 percentage last Saturday at IUPUI and suggests that there may finally some light at the end of tunnel for the embattled squad.
Head coach Phil McDaniel said that his team played with much better energy and showed glimpses of a return to their style of game, but said that there needs to be more balanced play on both sides of the net.
Fowler added that team leadership could be another factor in determining the future success of the Jacks.
“We’re going to have to start leading by example. We’re falling into a slump right now were everyone kind of jumps on the crazy train and were not playing our game of volleyball, so we need to lead by example and start doing things right.”