Loyola’s women’s volleyball team lost the momentum from its historic start to the season as it suffered two straight conference losses.
The team fell into a tie for second place in the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) with a 6-3 conference record — only a game and a half behind Wichita State University, which is in first place with a 7-1 record.
The first of the two losses came on Oct. 17, when the Shockers brought an end to the team’s five-game winning streak. The Ramblers lost in five sets after staging an impressive comeback from being down two sets to none.
Then on Oct. 20, the Ramblers lost to the University of Northern Iowa, a team Loyola’s women’s volleyball has never beaten. The loss was the Ramblers’ second straight conference loss and their third loss in the MVC of the season.
Although the game against Wichita State wasn’t the result Loyola was looking for against the current conference leaders, the team took away several positives from the loss, the first of which is that there isn’t a big separation between the Ramblers and the Shockers.
This was Loyola’s first conference game of the season to go into five sets. The Ramblers now know what adjustments need to be made ahead of their next game against the Shockers, according to head coach Chris Muscat, which will be a home game in Gentile Arena.
“[The captains] do a great job behind the scenes and set the standard for success for all of our young players,” said Muscat. “I think we rely on them a lot to help us build the culture in a really positive, healthy way.”
The captains carry the weight of responsibility on their shoulders with them to every practice and game, according to Muscat. He said he believes their drive and will to win is what fuels the team’s focus.
“I think a competitiveness and a grittiness [are] something[s] that we look for,” he said. “Their ability to be a part of a team [and them] putting team above self is something that is imperative … It’s something that’s harder to see in individual players.”
Holt, a sophomore setter, said a lot of what the team has done this year has worked.
“I think our offense is really flowing well, but that says a lot about our defense, too,” the early childhood education major said. “Our defense is putting us in really good positions to run our offense very effectively. It just feels like it’s flowing really well.”
The offense and defense are cohesive, Holt said, and both sides of the team have stepped up their game this season and are committed to each other. When the offense plays well, the defense compliments it, and the defense keeps the game flowing when the offense is bringing in the points, according to Holt.
“Our expectations for ourselves are really high,” she said. “We all have one goal that we’re pushing for no matter what. It’s a good family feel. As a team, we really focus on our energy on and off the court because we know how much we affect each other.”
The team is scheduled to play its next game against Bradley University on Oct. 24 in Gentile Arena.