Losses to USD on Friday and the Omaha Mavericks on Sunday left the SDSU volleyball team still looking for their first Summit League win after the weekend.
Following Friday’s loss to the Coyotes in which the Jacks fell 25-12, 25-20 and 25-15 in three sets, SDSU entered Sunday with hopes of a victory over an Omaha team that entered the game with a 3-4 record in Summit League play.
The first set proved highly competitive. Although the Mavericks repeatedly raced out to leads, the Jackrabbits had answers, including a four-point run coming out of a timeout to tie the game at 19. Throughout the match, SDSU seemed to consistently come out strong after head coach Phil McDaniel’s timeouts, seemingly always scoring the next couple points.
“It’s one of those things where you have to settle yourself down,” McDaniel said. “We came out a little bit high-strung tonight which is fine – I’d rather have us be high-strung than be down low. I had to settle us down, just remind them of a few key fundamental things that we needed to do to get ourselves back in the system.”
Even when Omaha took a 24-20 lead, SDSU did not quit, instead rattling off five straight points, throwing the pressure squarely on the Mavericks. Coming out of Omaha’s second timeout of the stretch, senior Margit Hansing was blocked once, but she could not be denied twice, as she buried her second shot for the winning kill.
“We came out and played well against them in the first set, got down a little bit toward the end there and then a big fury of just effort,” McDaniel said. “The energy was good. We were flying around, we were making good plays [and] things were starting to roll.”
Set No. 2 followed much the same pattern early, staying relatively close while the Mavericks typically led. Omaha had different plans for the set however and pushed their lead to 19-12. The Jacks would take a pair of points out of the timeout, but the deficit proved too deep and Omaha prevailed 25-17.
Neither team budged early in the third set. Omaha found its way to a 10-7 lead, but the Jacks bounced right back to tie it. Ultimately the Mavericks would spark a run though, going on to win the set 25-18.
The Jacks had an early 8-6 lead in the fourth set as they sought to stay alive, but they then watched their hopes evaporate as the Mavericks went on a 15-5 run to put the set out of reach, ultimately winning 25-16 to take the match 3-1.
Tiara Gibson led he Jacks with 11 kills and Wagner Larson added 10 more, but those numbers alone could not balance the stats sheet where Omaha had a 22-kill advantage, led by Megan Schmale with 16. Three other Mavericks joined Schmale in double figures as they made 62 kills against the Jacks.
“We’ve got to make sure we stay consistent – we have to find what’s working and keep doing it and keep going to it until they slow it down,” McDaniel said. “Tonight we abandoned some things a little too early and because of that we got away from what was working and by doing that, it made much tougher to stay competitive.”
With the loss, the Jackrabbits remain winless in Summit League play, but that doesn’t mean McDaniel is giving up hope for the season.
“The second time through the conference I told them before the game that my goal for us, and it should be the team’s goal, is that we still to get five or six wins in conference. If we do that it puts us in pretty good shape,” McDaniel said.