Tournament troubles


By Robert Myers Sports Editor

After being in the thick of things for the first six sets of the weekend, the Jackrabbits ran out of gas down the stretch on their way to dropping all three matches in the Jackrabbit Invitational.

The Jacks began the tournament against the Stephen F. Austin Ladyjacks at noon on Friday. During the match, the teams traded sets back and forth, seemingly favoring the east side of Frost Arena.

The Ladyjacks took set one 25-19 before falling to the Jackrabbits 25-21 in the second set. Stephen F. Austin then took set three 25-18 to come within one set of the victory.

Stephen F. Austin seemed in control of the fourth set and on their way to victory, but the Jackrabbits mounted a rally and a kill from Wagner Larson tied the set at 18. SDSU would go on to take the set 26-24.

“The big thing was we fought,” McDaniel said. “We easily could have rolled over and stopped playing after four sets. The players got together and stuck it out and really worked hard. That’s what we’re going to have to do.”

The fifth set ultimately swung towards the Ladyjacks though, as Stephen F. Austin came away with the 15-12 victory to take the match 3-2.

Margit Hansing, Tiara Gibson, Kasey Herrmann and Carley Gerving all reached double figures in kills for the match.

“[Carley Gerving gave SDSU] a lot of big energy,” McDaniel said. “She had a lot of great swings for us, played with much more confidence. We need her to continue to do that.”

Perhaps the biggest troubles for the Jackrabbits came in the blocks department where Stephen F. Austin held a 12-8.5 advantage that was closed by SDSU’s rally in the fourth set. 

“For us it was a little bit of a blocking scheme thing, a little bit of us losing track of our attackers here and there,” McDaniel said. “Once we settled down and dialed into that it got better for us. On the flip side, we gave them too many easy blocks.”

Friday’s night match set the Jackrabbits against the Kangaroos of the University of Missouri – Kansas City. The first set proved the most contested as the Jacks bested the Kangaroos in attack percentage but in the end fell 35-33.

“Just keep going, keep talking, because as soon as you stop talking the energy goes down, so just really run on your adrenaline, work as hard as you can and be there for your teammates,” said junior defensive specialist Alanna Pengilly about playing in extended sets.

SDSU seemed to lose some steam for the next two sets though, dropping 25-20 and 25-16 as UMKC took the match 3-0.

The slide appeared to continue into Saturday when the Valparaiso University Crusaders bested the Jacks in three sets, 25-20, 25-15 and 25-17. In their final match of the weekend SDSU’s attack percentage fell to .000 as their 25 kills were matched by 25 attack errors.

“When I look at our errors, our really lack of effort – which frustrates me because we’re home and we’ve got a crowd and they want to get into it and we can’t deliver – that’s frustrating,” McDaniel said. “… That’s going to be a big focus for us starting Monday. It has been but it will be reemphasized on Monday.”

Valpo’s attack was led largely by Emily Campbell who recorded 16 kills and a .375 attack percentage.

Pengilly represented SDSU on the All-Tournament team. Joining her were SFA’s Jilly Ivy, UMKC’s Jessica Henden and Melissa Hartsel and Valpo’s Morgan Beil, Allison Ketchum and tournament MVP Kelsey Berrington.

“Hustle and heart,” McDaniel said he saw from Pengilly. “She gives 110 percent all the time. She doesn’t get a lot of recognition for what she does for us. No matter how bad things are going, she never stops hustling, never stops playing and she’ll continue to do that.”

The Jacks return to action on Thursday, Sept. 11 when they host UND at 7 p.m. in Frost Arena to kick off the three-day SDSU Challenge.  

“We’re home next weekend so hopefully we’ll have a good two or three days of practice to get ourselves fired up, get ourselves back on point, get ourselves healthy. We’re a little banged this weekend so hopefully once we get a little healthier we’ll be in better shape,” McDaniel said.