The University of Dallas Volleyball team played four games over Friday and Saturday at the Austin College Invitational in Sherman, Texas. Coincidentally, the outcome of this invitational proved to be an exact replica of the team’s tournament last week in St. Louis, Mo.: the Crusaders won the first and last match but again failed to claim victory in the second two games.
The Crusaders faced a relatively weak opponent, Howard Paine University, in the first game of the weekend. The team began the invitational with a strong showing, defeating HPU 3-0. “It was pretty easy, for the most part. It was a good warm up,” said sophomore Diana Hassink. Three Dallas women — senior Jaime Birzer, junior Lexi Noriega, and junior Mairin Guilfoyle — had more than 10 kills.
Dallas then faced East Texas Baptist University. Although the Crusaders dropped the first two matches, they won the third set and nearly took the fourth set as well. The Crusaders lost the fourth set in extra points, 27-25, and fell to ETBU, three sets to one. The Crusaders knew this team would be a tough opponent, but that they were far from unbeatable.
“They were really technically sound, they just had a lot of errors … if we picked on their errors, that’s where we could thrive,” said sophomore Mary Scholz.
The team felt that they had the opportunity to claim the victory even after dropping the first two sets.
“Something clicked in the third game and we played the best defense we have so far this season… we had the momentum going into the fourth game and we had opportunities to win, we just weren’t able to finish,” said Guilfoyle.
The Crusaders also lost 3-1 in their first game on Saturday, when they played against Hardin-Simmons University. Having already played two games, the team was somewhat affected by fatigue.
“We had a lot of long rallies. After long points, we would just give up, because we were fatigued, or not mentally ready,” said Hassink. Hassink played exceptionally well in the loss, with a career-high 25 digs.
Finishing the invitational with a strong showing, Dallas defeated LeTourneau University 3-0. The team took pride in their closing performance.
“Everyone had a pretty solid game … they were a good team, we just outplayed them,” said Scholz.
“We were just really fired up that game… we really played well as a team. We were talking, and we definitely didn’t make that many mental errors,” said Hassink.
The invitational was, without a doubt, an important learning experience for the team. “One thing we learned over the weekend: getting over that exhaustion or that mental weakness, and pushing forward through every point,” said Hassink.
The players also stressed the importance of playing without making mental errors. “It’s whoever makes the least amount of mistakes,” said Hassink. “It doesn’t matter about the height, it doesn’t matter about how much power you have.”
The Crusaders will return to their home court to play on Thursday night and then travel to Shreveport, La. over the weekend to play three conference opponents.