Almost every Saturday, the Keene State College volleyball team has the always difficult task of playing two matches in one day.
These matches are called tri-matches. Last Saturday, they faced off against Trinity College and Wesleyan College.
KSC lost both matches: 3-1 and 3-0, respectively.
“Trinity was the number two team in their conference and we thought that by beating them, we would be stamping our invitation to the tournament but we didn’t do it,” Volleyball Head Coach Bob Weiner said.
In order to make the NCAA tournament at the end of the season, a team must either win its conference title or get invited by the NCAA tournament committee. So, if the volleyball team want to qualify for the NCAA tournament, it still have a long road ahead.
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“Every conference in the Northeast has one automatic qualifier to the NCAA tournament. But there’s an additional one or two teams that get invited. These teams are teams that had a great season and ultimately lose to another team in their conference championship but have beaten lots of other teams,” Weiner said. “Our problem this season is that the number eight team in the country is also in our conference, UMASS Boston. They are very hard to beat.”
So why does the volleyball team play these types of matches?
“In volleyball, we don’t have a set amount of matches that you can play. You have a number of dates. And on a calendar date, you can play as many matches as you want,” Weiner said. “We are only allowed 22 dates by the NCAA so in order to play more than 22 matches, we schedule more than one match a day.”
There are certain advantages and disadvantages that affect the way the volleyball team in these tri-matches.
“I like to play in these matches because it helps us stay focused. After the first game, you’re already in the mode, you’re ready to play and that helps us stay in the zone for both matches,” senior Ellyse Davis said.
Watching their opponents face-off against each other also serves as an advantage for the team, as far as the players are concerned. “These matches keep me warm and I like to get hyped up in between games, watching the other teams play. I think about what I can do personally against each team in each game that we have to play,” senior Ali Facchini said.
The scouting done in-between matches isn’t the only scouting the volleyball team does prior to tri-matches.
“We do a lot more scouting than just watching the teams play in front of us. We get scouting reports on all of the teams we play before we play them. That way, we can go in knowing what the teams we play are going to do,” Weiner said. “Sometimes having my team watch the other teams play does more harm than good. They get fixated on what each player brings to the table, but they aren’t thinking about the defensive end.”
“This season we have increased the difficulty of our schedule to a degree we have never seen here at Keene State. Every weekend, we are playing teams that are really tough. And sometimes we have to play two games in one day. But I do like it. It’s hard but every team is doing the same thing,” Weiner said.
“It’s tough because you really have to get over the first game in order to play well in the second game. We do our best to maintain focus,” Davis said. “The best thing we can do is forget about the last game we played and not let it hang over our heads if we made mistakes. We just have to get over it.”
Sometimes it’s easier said than done to get over losses and the volleyball team has struggled in this department so far this season. Almost all of the KSC women’s volleyball team’s losses this season have come at the hands of these tri-matches.
“I don’t believe the matches themselves have been the cause of our defeat, nor the fact that we have had to play two matches,” Weiner said. “I think it had a lot more to do with the quality of the competition which is going to continue to be tough. I think we can win both of our games this weekend in another tri-match.”
Davis said the team just needs to stay focused and learn from their past mistakes.
“Because we have had a couple of losses that really brought us down and took our heads out of the game this season. But we need to be able to get back up and stay together,” Davis said.
Weiner said the team is not that far off track, but are falling just short in these close games.
“What makes these losses tough is that we’ve been so close. It’s so frustrating because we are really close to these really good teams, it’s not like we are being blown out,” Weiner said. “We play these teams point for point, we just don’t win. We are going to quit shooting ourselves in the foot, we will be fine.”
Michelle Berthiaume can be contacted at email@example.com