Truman State University’s volleyball team dropped four rankings to No. 8 in the GLVC following three conference losses in Pershing Arena.
The Bulldogs have spent most of the season outperforming lukewarm preseason predictions, exemplified by their eight-match winning streak in September. Since then, however, the team has gone 1-4 in the GLVC, a costly stumble with only five games left to stay in playoff contention.
Truman faced tough teams in all of their recent losses. Two of them came from Rockhurst University, a team consistently ranked among the top 25 in the nation this season. On top of that, University of Illinois Springfield is on a 12-match winning streak, and McKendree University knocked the Bulldogs out of last year’s GLVC quarterfinals.
Head coach Ben Briney said the team has taken the losses as a learning opportunity. He said the players are especially working on staying disciplined on the court.
“Really it’s about accountability,” Briney said. “It’s about making sure that, individually, you’re taking care of your job, and then as a group making sure that whatever the task is, we’re taking care of our jobs. It really comes down to those two things.”
Briney also said this homestand, in which the team played three matches in four days, emulates the playoffs, where teams play three matches in three days. Before the playoffs, however, he said the team needs to take everything one day at a time to prepare for the challenge right in front of them.
Senior setter Savvy Hughes shined in Pershing Arena despite the losses. Hughes scored an average of 11.17 assists per set during the homestand, a rate that could land her in Truman’s record books. She said she felt the team put its best foot forward against a slew of strong teams, but at the end of the day, the matches didn’t go in the Bulldogs’ favor.
Hughes agreed with the three home matches resembling the GLVC tournament and said her teammates were laughing at how they had one day of practice between the McKendree and Rockhurst matches. Nonetheless, she said they worked hard that day, especially on focus drills.
The Bulldogs had fixed their focus squarely on Rockhurst, however. Hughes echoed Briney and said the team focuses on the present instead of what’s beyond the horizon, like the team’s upcoming Missouri road trip.
The ’Dogs started their final road trip of the season against the Missouri University of Science and Technology at 7 p.m. last Friday in Rolla, Missouri.