SDSU continues to struggle

By Justin harned Sports Editor

The SDSU volleyball team swept the Tennessee-Chattanooga Mocs on Sunday morning in their third and final game of the FIU Invitational, earning the Jackrabbits their first sweep of the season.

A persuasive 3-0 sweep gave the Jackrabbits their second win of the 2013 campaign in a dominating fashion as they improve to 2-7. The Jackrabbits won 25-17, 25-21, 25-20 and finished with two each in service aces and errors. The Mocs however, fall to 0-11 and finished two aces, but finish with five errors at the service line.

“We were able to keep them out of system for most of the match,” head coach Phil McDaniel said. “I thought we served the ball pretty tough … We handled the ball fairly well that match … It was certainly good to see us come back out here and get that last win before we left Florida.” 

Kacey Herrmann earned all-tournament team honors and led the SDSU defense with 15 digs. Alanna Pengilly added a career-high 14 digs and Lizzie Palmer 13 digs. Courtney Roberts adds a career high nine kills in the win. Lexi Fowler set a new career high with four block assists to go along with 29 set assists. The Jacks out-blocked the Mocs 14-6. The Jackrabbit offense added 14 kills and hit .400 on the match with just a couple of errors in 30 swings.

The Jackrabbits are traveling more than usual this season and have to balance schoolwork on top of mastering their sport away from the university. But that is no excuse for losing, according to McDaniel. 

“We prepare the same way as if we are at home … same amount of practice, same amount of effort,” McDaniel said. “The tough part is balancing school work and traveling, this is kind of an unusual year for us, we don’t travel this much … It’s just the way it worked out this year.”

Being on the road may prove tough to some players but McDaniel thinks it’s a great time to bond as a team.

“I don’t think it’s a distraction,” McDaniel said. “The players have gotten to know one another pretty well spending all this time together, it’s not easy by any means … For us it’s been about learning.”

UTM’s Allie Davenport led with 13 kills and Briana Reid finished with 10 kills and 14 digs for one of two UTM double-doubles. Mocs setter Anne Bachman posted a double-double with 25 assists and 12 digs.

The Jackrabbits played a total of three games in the FIU Invitational, in their first game on early Friday morning lost a close match of 25-23, 25-23, and 25-16 losing 3-0 to the Jacksonville Dolphins (8-0).

Wagner Larson led the Jacks with eight kills and one of the team’s two service aces. Roberts and Mikala Hora added six kills in the loss. Larson and Hora also tied career highs with four block assists. Palmer led the defense with 15 digs and Herrmann added 10 digs along with the other service ace.

In the Jackrabbits second game Friday evening, the Jackrabbits struggled stopping point runs as FIU Panthers went on to win 25-15, 25,14, and 25-14. 

Larson led the Jacks with seven kills and two block assists as no SDSU player finished with double figure kills or digs.

Kimberly Smith led with double-digit kills for the Panthers and Lucia Castro with 13. Smith hit an even .500 for the match and added three solo blocks along with three block assists to finish with six total blocks, while Castro added four block assists in the win. 

“I know we are going to face a couple of physical teams in UTEP and New Mexico State, Hampton is a quality team from out East,” McDaniel said. “We never seen them before, they’ve never seen us before so it will be interesting to see how that plays out with them. The expectation from us is that we take what we have learned so far, apply that and hopefully get a little better with each match we play.”

The Jackrabbits will travel to El, Paso for the UTEP/New Mexico State Invitational and will face Hampton at noon along with UTEP at 8 p.m. on Friday and a match at New Mexico State on Saturday.