Volleyball off to a slow start as conference play begins

Brian Hula, Contributing Writer

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The University of Dallas volleyball team played three games over the weekend in Shreveport, La., competing with teams from the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) for the first time this season. Dallas lost the opening and closing games of the weekend against Austin College and Colorado College, but did claim a sweep in the middle game against the host team, Centenary College.

Players from the team were surprised by the strong performance of Austin College, whom the volleyball team had often defeated in prior matches.

“They came out very aggressive, which I don’t think we expected honestly,” said junior defensive specialist and setter Anna Fazio. “We’ve beat them the past two years … we were expecting them to not show up.”

The Crusaders seemed to commit some of the same mental errors that plagued them in a home loss on Thursday.

“It was the same feeling of deadness on the court,”said sophomore defensive specialist Diana Hassick. “It was really disappointing. Mentally, we were stuck.”

The team did respond later in the day with a decisive victory over Centenary College of Louisiana. Although the opponents played well, the Crusaders brought passion to the game, which the team had lacked in the last two contests.

“They worked hard … and wanted to stick out the game. But I think at that point, we were so tired of losing … we mentally showed up to that game,” said Fazio. “We played intense, we played at a different level than we had.”

Hassink agreed that the Dallas women played with confidence.

“We decided we weren’t going to give up,” Hassink said. “We knew we could do it, we just needed the mentality that we were going to win.”

The Crusaders closed the series of games by facing Colorado College, ranked 11th in the country in Division III volleyball. Colorado College, according to the Crusader women, is a very intelligent team.

“They learned fast,” said Fazio. “By the third game, they knew where to put the ball against us. They’re very smart.”

The Crusaders did compete well during the game, despite the fact that the team was ultimately defeated 0-3.

“We told ourselves that we weren’t going to succumb to our mental weaknesses, and we definitely fought back in the first two games,” said Hassink.

Despite the two losses, the Crusader women felt that the team could use this experience to help them prepare for the next round of games against conference opponents. Hassink posited that the players need to play their own positions while working in harmony with teammates on the court.

“Sometimes this weekend, people would try to be a hero, but that doesn’t help in a team situation,” Hassink said. “We really just need to focus on what helps with the team, and not just yourself.”

The team must learn from the games in Shreveport in order to prepare for three crucial games against other teams in the SCAC. The team has a big weekend coming up, with games against Texas Luthern University, Trinity University and Southwestern University, all of which will be tough competition for the Crusaders. The team will travel to San Antonio over the weekend to play four conference opponents: Schreiner University and Texas Lutheran University on Saturday, and Southwestern University and host team Trinity University on Sunday.

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