Currently sitting at 4-23 (3-13), the Loyola women’s volleyball team has tried to find small ways to improve in a season unkind to the Ramblers.
Some growth has been seen out of the Ramblers as the season has gone on. The team had a two-game conference winning streak against Southern Illinois University (3-1) and Bradley University (3-2). The two wins during the streak were the team’s first Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) victories of the season and its first wins since its Sept. 3 victory against Samford University.
“In this later stage of conference play we’re seeing improvement in both the amount of points we’re scoring and our error percentages,” head coach Chris Muscat said. “We’ve become more competitive because we’ve been able to convert more of these chances while keeping our errors and mistakes to a minimum, something we really struggled with early in the season.”
This slight improvement comes after a period in conference play when the team struggled to win sets, let alone games. The team was shutout in seven of their 14 games of conference play so far. The Ramblers had many missed opportunities this season, only converting on 14 percent of their attack chances this year compared to 24.3 percent from their opponents. Muscat has linked this issue to inconsistency.
“We need to find more consistency in our game,” Muscat said. “There’s times where different parts of the way we play are clicking and others are still finding the way through sets and through matches and playing together and continuing to learn is the only way we will improve and iron out these problems to find consistency.”
Now with just two regular season matches remaining — against Southern Illinois University and Missouri State University — the team hopes to finish strong in order to to qualify for the MVC conference tournament in Normal Nov. 23-25.
“As a team, we’re just trying to figure it out together and we’re hoping to use the rest of the conference season to get it together before the MVC tournament,” junior defensive specialist Maddy Moser said.
Along with hope for success at the conference tournament, the team has already set its sights on next season with goals to compete for the MVC championship with its juniors who gained valuable experience this year, according to Muscat.
“I think we can really keep growing with the core that’s in place now so we can really turn the corner next year with so much experience and leadership from this group. But right now it’s about trusting the process,” Moser said.
The team’s struggles this year have been related to its lack of seniors on the roster without a single four-year player on the team. This problem has plagued the team to its 4-23 record this season as it attempts to replace last year’s group of seniors, including Morgan Reardon and Sami Hansen.
With a crop of seven juniors who’ve started for the team at least one season, the Ramblers hope this season’s struggles can help propel them to MVC success next season with the group’s progression.
“With our core going forward this season and next the key has to be putting it all together for longer periods of time and finding the consistency we’ve lacked at times this year, as to be a great team you need streaks that win sets and in turn win matches,” Muscat said.
The Ramblers’ season is scheduled to continue Nov. 17 against Southern Illinois University at 7 p.m. in Gentile Arena.