Jackrabbits run losing streak to four

Travis Kriens

Travis Kriens

Coming into the weekend, the Jacks were in a four-way tie for the final two spots for the Summit League Tournament. At the end of the week, SDSU found themselves one game back in seventh place.

In the longest home stand of the season, the SDSU women’s volleyball team was swept by Oakland 25-17, 25-18, 25-15 on Oct. 17 to end the home stand 0-3.

In a part of their schedule where it looked like the Jacks might have a chance to solidify their spot among the top four teams in the league, SDSU lost 9-of-10 sets against North Dakota State, IPFW and Oakland over the past eight days.

“I just felt like our energy was down,” said head coach Nana Allison-Brewer. “We just couldn’t find that connection to get us over the hump. I thought that we started off well and utilized our strengths, but once they (Oakland) were able to get on us with a hot player, they just kept going to that player. It created a change in emotion where we couldn’t battle back and step up.”

The Jacks (6-13, 5-6) were down 11-12 in all three sets, before the Golden Grizzlies would close on runs of 13-5, 13-7 and 13-4.

“It’s trying to look and analyze where that is, what rotation,” said Allison-Brewer. “We know we can win and can play with a lot of these teams. It’s the mental side of the game of keeping our emotions high and finding a way to battle back when the other team gets on a run.”

In an earlier meeting at Oakland (14-5, 7-5), the Jacks pushed Oakland to five sets before losing.

The difference between the two games, according to Allison-Brewer, was on the defensive side of the ball.

“We were digging balls, creating opportunities offensively and everyone was engaged. The defense really kept us in the game at Oakland and we were offensively driven. Today, it was a one and done and that was it. If we go long rallies, we typically win them.”

Ellyce Youngren led the Jacks with 11 kills, finishing the weekend with a total of 21.

Nicole Peters added 21 assists and Stacey Wernert was the lone Jackrabbit to have double-digit digs with 10.

The SDSU total of 30 kills was the least number of kills in a home match since October of 2002 and the three match home losing streak is the longest since the end of the 2003 season.

“I feel that we can compete, but it’s just the mental side of the game,” said Allison-Brewer. “We have a lot of talent, but we have to come together as a team. We went through the first half of the season and put ourselves in a good position, but I don’t know why we struggle sometimes.

“The big thing is that we need to face our weaknesses and get better by improving. I have high hopes and we have positive thoughts, but we have to be better at understanding what we need to get better at.”

SDSU goes on the road this weekend with an 8 p.m. serve at IUPUI (14-7, 6-4) on Oct. 23 followed by a 6 p.m. start at Western Illinois (8-14, 4-7) on Oct. 24.

IUPUI and IPFW are currently tied for the fourth and final spot in the Summit League Tournament in Fargo on Nov. 21. The Jacks are tied with UMKC at 5-6, one game back with seven conference games to play.

“We need to remember that we have a lot of control in what happens the rest of the season,” Allison-Brewer said. “It is amazing what is going on in conference. It’s right there, but we have to earn it and finish the job.”

After a tough first set, IPFW never trailed again in their three-set sweep of the Jackrabbits.

An exciting first set was as close as the Jacks would get to touching IPFW in women’s volleyball on Oct. 16 as the Mastodons swept SDSU 30-28, 25-19, 25-16.

After the first set, momentum seemed to be on the side of IPFW (12-9, 6-5) as they did not relinquish the lead in the final two sets.

“I felt like we should have fed off of that and said, ‘we are in this and have the ability to win,'” said head coach Nana Allison-Brewer.

Allison-Brewer also said that the first set loss was huge and set the tone for the rest of the night.

“I think it would have been a different story had we won that first set,” the second year head coach said. “We needed it to show this young squad that we have it all. But mentally we have to prove it and find ourselves.”

In the first set, SDSU had 20 kills. In the last two, the Jacks combined for 18 kills and 11 errors.

Ellyce Youngren was the team leader with 10 kills with Fiona Jones adding 13 digs. SDSU would have two setters have double-digit assists as Nicole Peters had 18 and Thyele Rechatiko had 10.

“You can’t dwell on this because you don’t know what the other teams are going to do,” Allison-Brewer said in reference to the Jacks’ standing in the Summit League. “We need to take care of our own business.”

In the third set, IPFW hit .467 with only two errors and 16 kills.

Part of the reason that the Jacks did not hold a lead in the final two sets was that they were trying to be too aggressive at the net and giving IPFW easy points instead of making them earn it.

“We don’t need you to try and pound it between to big blockers or make an incredible play out of nothing,” said Allison-Brewer. “Just keep it alive and give us another opportunity. We just made too many mistakes at crucial times.

“It’s easier for the other team to keep getting points if we keep making mistakes,” she said.

Dating back to last season, this is the ninth straight set the Jacks have dropped to IPFW. The Mastodons now lead the all-time series 8-2 with one of the SDSU wins coming in the Summit League Championship in 2007.

“I don’t know why we don’t step up to the opportunity when we just showed how good we are and that we can compete with them,” Allison-Brewer said. “It’s one of those things where you have to think about the positives.

“We have to have motivation, not frustration. We can’t start thinking about negative things that might happen,” she said.

#1.881331:2959235734.jpg:VB.jpg:Ashley Kathol sends a spike to the side of IPFW outside hitter Stephanie Lamberti (2) during their match on Oct. 16. IPFW swept the Jackrabbits.:Ethan Swanson