Wildcats edge by Bulldogs for win
Published: Friday, September 13, 2013
Updated: Friday, September 13, 2013 02:09
The UNH volleyball team improved to a record of 5-3 this season with a 3-0 victory over Bryant on Tuesday at Lundholm gymnasium. Despite sweeping the Bulldogs, the Wildcats looked sloppy at times, committing 16 errors.
“I think we could have played a lot better, we could have committed a lot less errors,” sophomore Brenna Buckwalter said. “But at the end of the day a win is a win, and we just have to fix the small things and move on, focus more a little bit.”
Despite winning, UNH volleyball head coach Jill Hirschinger decided to teach her players a lesson early on in the game by benching senior captain Morgan Thatcher.
“If you don’t get your job done on the court, you’re not going to play,” Hirschinger said. “And that’s one thing that’s key with our team this year. We’re deep at every position and you’ve got to bring your A-game every night or else you’re not going to play.”
Even without Thatcher, who only committed one error, the Wildcats still committed an additional 15 errors, six coming from sophomore Tori Forrest, and an additional three coming off serves from junior Sam Henke.
“Some of the errors were mental, things that we can fix in practice, just focus on more,” sophomore Madison Lightfoot said. “I think our problem is when we get one or two errors in a row, but I think we’ve been able to flip the switch and get that energy up.”
While the errors were plentiful in the game and caused Thatcher to get benched, Buckwalter believes there is no added pressure to perform well.
“I don’t think there’s any added pressure, just a lot of healthy competition,” Buckwalter said. “We have a lot of depth at every position and I trust every one of my teammates to go out there and play really well.”
Expectations have been raised for the young squad with the younger players, especially the sophomores who are now being relied on even more than they were last year.
“There’s a big difference, they’ve really grown up,” Hirschinger said. “They’re really coming together and look stronger one year later. I think we have great chemistry and we have great energy. We worked on that a lot in preseason.”
Part of what has helped that progression is knowing their place on the team.
“You know your role on the team [in year two], know your strengths and weaknesses and are much more comfortable with your role,” Lightfoot said.
“I think in year one we were all so new and learning so much that we got off to a much slower start in preseason,” Buckwalter said. “But this year, knowing our roles, knowing our way we’ve been able to work on so much more and we have chemistry so it’s just been better.”
The Wildcats hit the road and don’t return home until Oct. 11, playing 11 games including two tournaments and three conference games. Up first is the Maryland Tournament this Friday and Saturday where the Wildcats will take on Maryland, Villanova and George Mason. UNH then travels to Dartmouth for the Dartmouth Duel on Sept. 20 and 21.
“The good news, there’s a lot of home [games] at the end,” Hirschinger said. “So, it’s only two weekend tournament trips, it’s not bad. It seems worse than it is. I would rather have those home games near the end of the season when we’re going for home-court advantage during the conference championships.”