Volleyball unable to continue strong starts

Holly Mertens (7) and the Marquette women’s volleyball team have failed to remain consistent after a promising start to the season.
Holly Mertens (7) and the Marquette women’s volleyball team have failed to remain consistent after a promising start to the season.

Almost every team will have its ups and downs during the course of a season. The trick to having a successful season, though, is to limit these rises and falls and try to achieve some consistency.

More than halfway through its season, the Marquette women’s volleyball team is still in search of consistency both in matches and in each individual set.

The Golden Eagles have fallen into a pattern of getting off to a quick start and winning the first set before letting up.

Taking the first set easily against South Florida this weekend, the Golden Eagles dropped the next two sets, leading for only one point combined in both sets. Marquette would go on to lose the match in five sets.

Marquette did the same thing against both Seton Hall and West Virginia earlier in the year, winning the first set before taking its foot off the gas pedal and falling in five.

Against Georgetown, Marquette dominated the first two sets before falling behind big in the third set. Although the Golden Eagles were able to pull the third set out, the inconsistency between sets — and even during the match — was still shown.

“This is what we keep telling our team,” coach Bond Shymansky said after the Georgetown match. “This is classic. We keep going out, playing two good sets, and then just letting it linger a little bit and our focus wanders.”

Marquette is still working on a killer instinct but by no means has the season been unsuccessful. The Golden Eagles stand at 13-9 (3-5 Big East) and are still in the hunt to get in the Big East tournament. They currently sit in ninth place, only one behind where they need to be.

“We just have to keep learning and moving forward. That’s three five-set matches in conference that we’ve lost, and it’s just heartbreaking for us to think about what happens if those go the other way,” Shymansky said. “But this is how we have to build our program. Sometimes through that adversity and through those tough losses you will find your true character.”

So far Marquette’s character has been one of resiliency and energy. In its match Friday against Georgetown, sophomore Ciara Jones was not feeling well, yet still managed to lead all players with 14 kills.

“I knew I had to turn it on,” Jones said. “I was feeling under the weather at the beginning of the game, but I realized I had to play hard even if I am under the weather.”

In that same match, Marquette turned a 13-20 deficit in the third set to a 27-25 victory.

“I think our team battled it out in the end and just kept their composure through the finish,” Shymansky said.

Even in Sunday’s loss to South Florida, Marquette was able to get back in the match after trailing two sets to one. The Golden Eagles won the fourth set and had the final set all knotted up at 13 before succumbing to the Bulls 13-15.

“We’re getting better,” junior Nikki Klingsporn said. “I think that was our true passion and our true fight that whole game. It’s just a crappy outcome.”