Currently sitting at 1-14 (0-4), the Loyola women’s volleyball team is seeing its early season struggles carry over into conference play in a year that continues to go from bad to worse.
Winless through three conference games, the team has continued to struggle mightily — especially on the road, with its road record at 0-9 on the season. The nine-game losing streak began after the Ramblers last beat Samford University at home. The team only won one set in those eight games.
“It’s definitely not been the start we’ve wanted and we hoped for and right now everything remains a work in progress,” junior outside hitter Gabi Maciagowski said.
The team hoped conference play would provide them a chance to turn their season around after a 1-10 nonconference schedule, according to head coach Chris Muscat, but so far the story hasn’t changed and the team has suffered three more losses highlighted by 0-3 defeats to University of Northern Iowa and Missouri State University.
“We came into conference play with the view of it as a clean slate and that view hasn’t changed,” sophomore setter Delilah Wolf said. “We need to work on coming together better as a team and coalescing better together — and until that happens, we won’t be successful.”
The team’s difficulties have been rooted in its struggle to score points consistently, especially outside of Maciagowski, who leads the team with 130 kills.
“Looking at our results, we know we need to fix a few things and most importantly, we need to score more points and that’s an area we continue to focus on in practice week in and week out, to be more efficient offensively and more effective in converting on our chances,” Muscat said.
Other statistical problems for the Ramblers are fixed in their inability to convert their chances. With a .124 attack percentage compared to its opponents combined total of .275, the team has struggled all season with scoring points and taking its opportunities to win sets and games. Attack percentage is a formula to show how effective or ineffective a team is by taking kills minus overall errors divided by total attempts to score.
Now as the conference season continues, the team hopes shifts in its efficiency and tempo can lead to more success in finding its identity.
“We’ve continued to try and pick up the tempo at which we play at. We’ve got two setters who weren’t with us this spring and being able to work with them in the gym, to work through some of these pieces, is going to be imperative to our success for the rest of the season and attempting to increase the tempo at which we play at,” Muscat said.
The team hopes these changes can lead to a return to the win column for the Ramblers, according to Muscat, as they continue conference play against other teams at the bottom of the MVC standings, including Valparaiso University and Bradley University. The team has until the MVC conference championships Nov. 23-25 to turn the season around.
“You always want to do better in the second half of conference play than in the first just because of the tournament. Now we’re hoping that works in our favor and we can put it all together and start winning before the conference tournament,” Maciagowski said.
The team is scheduled to continue its conference season on Oct. 6 against the No. 6 team in the MVC, Illinois State University, at 7 p.m. in Normal.