A five-game affair can be one of the most stressful situations in volleyball, where every point matters in the final set and one small play can be the difference between a win and a loss.
This was certainly the case on Oct. 23, as the Falcon volleyball team took Simon Fraser to a five-game match in Burnaby, BC. It came down to a 14-14 tie in the fifth game before the Clan were able to claim the game and match with two consecutive points.
Senior middle blocker Madi Cavell had another career night, tallying 19 kills. Senior outside hitter Jessica Miller also had a great night, with a season-high 18 kills. But the stellar performances were not enough to lift the Falcons (11-10, 5-8 GNAC) above the Clan (14-6, 8-4 GNAC).
“We executed everything so well, both on offense and defense,” Cavell said. “It went really well, and we came out strong and looked good against them. We definitely learned a lot about ourselves and came out for the better afterwards.”
Sophomore middle blocker Maddi Hommes also had a strong performance for the Falcons with a career-high 10 kills. Hommes felt that the team performed extremely well despite the loss.
“The first game we played went really well, and the whole game was a competition,” Hommes said. “We carried over a lot of energy from the last game [a win against Alaska Fairbanks] and we definitely played hard.”
The Falcons looked to keep up the high energy and quality play as they travelled to Western Washington University two days later, on Oct. 25. But nationally ninth-ranked Western Washington (17-4, 10-2 GNAC) also brought their A-game. That, combined with the home court advantage, withered SPU down and WWU took the victory in four games. SPU looked strong throughout, and even dominant at times in the one game that they took, storming to a 28-26 victory.
“The first game was great and we played awesome in every way, on offense and defense,” Cavell said. “But we stopped executing well in the other games. This is a really good conference, and it’s really competitive. Every team can come out and win it any given night, and that’s a really exciting feeling.”
But the Falcons stumbled on defense and were unable to come out on top, as WWU took the three following games and the win.
“I feel like it came down to fitness,” Hommes said. “There were a lot of long drawn out rallies, and they’re used to that. But I felt like we had good chemistry and that we played well, especially in the first game.”
The Falcons prepare for their next match this week, returning to Royal Brougham Pavilion to duke it out with Montana State Billings (10-11, 5-8 GNAC) on Nov. 1 at 7 p.m.
“We definitely want to get back on the winning side, and it’s frustrating to lose because we know we’re good,” Hommes said. “A lot of things can change in practice, and we’re always looking to get better. We’re focusing on our mentality this week and getting ourselves in check for our next game.”