Volleyball splits in home debut

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Campus was bustling last weekend because of beautiful weather, family day and, finally, game day. The Truman State volleyball team played in the first of Truman Athletics’ many home season debuts at Pershing Arena Friday night.

The ‘Dogs opened up conference play in front of a home crowd during a match against their GLVC rival, the McKendree University Bearcats. Although the teams sported different rosters and lineups, the game was a rematch of the 2014 GLVC Conference Championship and the 2014 NCAA Regional game. Truman came away from the previous matches with wins, but the Bearcats defeated the Bulldogs this time around. McKendree defeated reigning conference champions Truman in a 3-1 win.

Truman coach Ben Briney says he expected McKendree to play with a little extra fire after Truman ended the Bearcats’ season last year.

“We knew coming in it was going to be a tough match,” Briney says. “They had something extra they were playing for there.”

During the first set of the evening, the Bulldogs and Bearcats played a back-and-forth match that McKendree eventually took with a score of 27-25. Truman’s offense improved during the second set, but despite out-hitting the Bearcats, McKendree went on a run to take a 22-17 lead. Truman fought to even up the set, but the Bearcats took the set and a 2-0 advantage going into intermission.

Following intermission, the ‘Dogs had another chance to defeat McKendree. After starting off with a 12-2 lead, the Bulldogs forced 10 hitting errors and won the set 25-12.

Briney says the players simply started to get it right. He said he thinks the team’s offense grew a lot this weekend and came away from the game with major positives.

“Honestly, I just think things started to click,” Briney says. “This weekend our offense started to really come around, and people began to get into a rhythm. Even though we lost that game against McKendree, there was a huge positive that came out of this. Offensively we really started to play well and could have even had the opportunity to actually sweep them.”

Although a sweep was no longer up for grabs, the ‘Dogs headed into the fourth set in a must-win situation. McKendree pushed back, however, and soon was in the lead again. After falling behind early, the Bulldogs were not able to contain the Bearcats. McKendree went on its longest run of the day because of a string of Bulldog errors and Bearcat kills, taking 13 of 16 points and claiming set number four with a comfortable gap of 10 points.

Briney says limiting runs like these will be an ongoing focus for the ‘Dogs this year, and he said it is very important to work on serve-receive games and find the ability to side-out at a high percentage during tough situations. He says the loss was an early learning experience for the team.

For more on the volleyball team’s home debut, pick up a copy of the Index or click here to read online on Issuu.

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