You’ve heard the saying before: “It’s not about how you start, it’s about how you finish.” That’s exactly what Bradley women’s volleyball will try to focus on after winning one of three matches last weekend at the South Dakota Classic.
“It was a lot of tough competition,” senior outside hitter Hannah Thompson said. “Obviously we lost two and won one, but playing against competition like that and being in those situations just gives us an opportunity to grow.”
The women traveled to Vermillion, South Dakota to join Milwaukee, South Dakota and Central Arkansas in the tournament.
The first matchup for the Braves was on Friday when they went face-to-face with South Dakota, who were picked to win the Summit League for the second straight year. The Braves struggled in their performance as they allowed the Coyotes to hit .330 during the three-set match which ended in a sweep for the home team.
“They were a really tough team, so it was on us to stay disciplined and [know] what our game plan was,” Thompson said. “We were kind of a roller coaster with that, but at the same time, we were making good things happen – it just wasn’t in long streaks.”
The following day started with the Braves claiming the first set against Milwaukee, but it was the Panthers who roared back, winning the next three sets and finishing the match with a 25-12 victory to beat the Braves three sets to one.
Later that day, the Braves salvaged their trip by sweeping Central Arkansas in three sets. In the match, the Braves scored their best hitting performance of the season at a clip of .313.
The performance was one that came when the Braves needed it most, and it’s something that they’ll look back on and try and replicate in future matches.
“We have a very good ‘next game mentality,’ and so we know what we did well in the previous game and what we can build off of,” junior libero Serena Sparks said.
The Braves now sit with a record of 2-6, uncharacteristic for a team which returns nearly all players from a year ago. A tougher non-conference schedule may be to blame, but sometimes all it takes is a string of wins to jump-start a team.
To do that, the Braves will certainly have to key in on hitting more shots. They currently sit at a hit percentage of .176, nearly .050 points below their opponents (.226). Working on getting set without the ball to help produce better hits is something that head coach Carol Price-Torok and the team are especially keying in on.
“When we work really, really hard when we don’t have the ball, we put ourselves in really great situations, and that’s a discipline thing that we just need to continue to work on over and over again,” Price-Torok said.
The Braves will look to make it two wins in a row when they face North Dakota at home in the CEFCU Classic today at noon.