SPU volleyball: Gaining motivation in tough stretch

Sterling Mitchell/THE FALCON Junior setter Kendall Langdon, center, sets up her teammates against Central Washington on Saturday. The Falcons lost in three sets.

Sterling Mitchell/THE FALCON
Junior setter Kendall Langdon, center, sets up her teammates against Central Washington on Saturday. The Falcons lost in three sets.

The Seattle Pacific volleyball team struggled last week at home after winning five matches in a row. They lost to Northwest Nazarene on Thursday, 3-1, and lost again on Saturday against Central Washington, 3-0.
Both of these matches were must-wins if the Falcons had any hope of making the playoffs.
“We needed to win out to have a shot,” head coach Chris Johnson said. “We can’t take any more losses if we want to have a chance.”
Johnson said this before the match against CWU, and that shows just how pivotal it was going to be.
In both matches, there was an inability to close out tight sets.
Against NNU, the Falcons had a 24-21 lead in the third set, but then went on to lose 31-29.
There were multiple times during the match where the Falcons had an opportunity to win but couldn’t capitalize.
“It [the third set against NNU] was pretty pivotal,” Johnson said. “We had eight set points in that game, and we weren’t able to close it out. That kills you.”
Against CWU, the Falcons were able to get out to a 24-22 lead in the third set and ended up losing 28-26 to end the match.
Another recurring theme in both contests was an inability to get around blocks. SPU could do little with its kills because both NNU and CWU did an excellent job blocking.
“We’ve been working on that a lot in practice,” junior setter Kendall Langdon said about being blocked so much. “We usually take a lot of pride [hitting around blocks] but weren’t able to execute recently.”
Even after losing a tough and pivotal match to NNU, the team didn’t let that distract it from the match against CWU. They knew what needed to be done but weren’t able to go out and execute as well as they wanted to.
“We had a really good practice [Friday night], and we prepared a lot over film,” Langdon said. “I don’t think the loss against NNU really affected us at all because we bounced back really well in practice.”
The Falcons also made it tough on themselves by constantly falling behind in sets and always having to play catch-up.
Against NNU, they were down by as many as eight in the second set. They were also down by eight to end the second set against CWU.
“I think it did [affect us being down constantly],” sophomore middle blocker Jackie Arnold said. “It’s really challenging and stressful on us to constantly be playing catch-up.”
Although this loss all but eliminates the team from playoff contention, they haven’t lost any motivation going forward.
“I think, if anything, we gain motivation from this game because we knew what was at stake,” Langdon said. “We don’t really feel any pressure, and we won’t lose any motivation going forward.”
Although the remaining matches won’t help the team reach the playoffs, that won’t change the mentality for this team going forward. They still want to give it their all for the rest of the year.
“We’re still playing the game we love and playing with teammates that you love,” Arnold said. “We would’ve loved to go to championship matches, but it just didn’t turn out that way this year.”
The Falcons go on their last road trip of the year as they play Saint Martin’s on Thursday in Lacey.
Then they face Western Oregon on Saturday in Monmouth, Ore.

This article was posted in the section Sports.

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