The Truman State University volleyball team hosted its home opener last weekend against Quincy University and McKendree University. Heading into the weekend, the Bulldogs had an overall record of 4-6 with high expectations and showed signs of improvement in the two games.
Redshirt sophomore defensive specialist Elle Renault described the team’s struggles as finding its identity. She said last year the team took until the conference tournament to find it. It might not have found it quite yet this season, but the team is getting closer with each game.
Last Friday, the Bulldogs won their first match on their home court, sweeping Quincy in just three sets. The Bulldogs won all three sets by a margin of at least 6 points, allowing them to take the match quickly.
Sophomore opposite hitter Jocelynn Livingston said last year’s experience of starting the season 3-11 and ending with a conference ring is encouraging to a team looking for solid footing so the team has no reason to panic.
“It’s not the start we want, but we are getting there,” Livingston said. “Last year, we didn’t get there until the conference tournament, so the fact that we’re already creeping on that success level is super exciting because who knows what we’re gonna do.”
The Bulldogs had 46 kills during the match against Quincy, 10 each from Livingston and freshman outside hitter Sam Yancy.
Livingston said it was impressive that they could beat a good team like Quincy so quickly and efficiently. She said it shows that success is starting to come.
The Bulldogs’ win against the Quincy Hawks was followed by a close loss Saturday to the McKendree Bearcats after five sets.
The competitive match had a combined 32 ties and 15 lead changes. Finally, in the last match, Truman ran out of steam and McKendree earned its 15-11 win, controlling the pace from the first point and leading by more than one point for the entire match.
Head Coach Ben Briney said with a team like McKendree, the Bulldogs can’t afford to give them an opportunity to get back into the game.
“It’s always a tough match when we play a team like McKendree,” Briney said. “We’ve had a lot of tough battles over the years, so going in, it’s anybody’s match.”
Briney said the team is still learning how to compete for every single point and how all of them make a difference in deciding who wins a set.
“It was pretty awesome watching them from the bench,” Briney said. “That team that was out there was awesome. We haven’t hit like that all year, and that was the offense I knew we could have.”
The Bulldogs will hit the road once again as they travel to William Jewell College and Drury University this weekend for two more GLVC matchups.