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The Hawkeye

The Student News Site of University of Louisiana Monroe

The Hawkeye

The Student News Site of University of Louisiana Monroe

The Hawkeye

Close series not enough to beat Trojans

Katherine Babin

After a close first match, ULM volleyball still remains winless in the Sun Belt Conference. The Warhawks (4-20; 0-10 SBC) hosted Troy (12-8; 10-0 SBC), where they pushed match one to a fifth set but couldn’t close out either of the two games.

Facing the Trojans seemed daunting because during conference play, they have conceded four sets, boasted five sweeps and played to a fifth set just once.

But junior right side/middle blocker Madeline Villarreal explained that going into the match, none of Troy’s past mattered.

“We focused more on ourselves and just came in with a gritty attitude and to work hard and try our best to take every opponent the same way,” Villarreal said.

The team’s confidence shone through in set one of the first match as soon as outside hitter/right side Brynn Botkin put ULM on the board. Her kill sparked a 4-point run to give the Warhawks the lead. The team stayed hot and never allowed more than 2 points in a row from the Trojans. 

A kill from outside hitter Ariana Brown brought the team to match point, and an attack error by Troy gave ULM set one 25-17.

Troy answered in set two while the Warhawks failed to find their footing offensively. A ball-handling error capped off a brutal second set as Troy won 25-13.

The Warhawks regained control in set three, starting with another kill by Botkin. The Trojans fought to keep up with ULM’s scoring, but Brown, Logan Jeffus and Villareal pushed to retain the lead. Setter Bailey Roberson and Jeffus once again connected to land a kill and win the third set 25-20.

ULM entered set four with eyes on its first match win in over two years. After Botkin began a 6-point run, fans got on their feet. Troy answered with 5 straight points, followed by another 6 to lead 20-18. ULM and Troy tied at 25-25, but 2 points from Troy iced the win and forced a fifth set. 

Troy didn’t hesitate and quickly took the set 15-4, ending match one.

ULM tried to bounce back in set one of the second match. However, multiple runs by the Trojans forced the Warhawks to play from behind. A stretching lead proved difficult to overcome, and Troy took set one (25-17).

The Warhawks didn’t quit and entered set two with determination. Libero Cameron Rogers described how the team faces deficits.

“We’re working on being more relaxed and confident when playing teams with a better record than us,” Rogers said. “We just need to learn how to regather our thoughts and focus on the next point.”

ULM took an early lead, and with 13 errors by the Trojans, the Warhawks were able to take the second set.

Set three began, and Troy’s offense lit up the court. ULM was unable to regain control. A kill by middle blocker Hannah Redrow and an error by Troy made a comeback look possible, but the Trojans dashed that hope with a final kill, winning the set 25-17.

After wanting to avoid a fifth set, the Warhawks entered set four with the intent to take Troy to five. Tied at 9-9, the Trojans landed 3 straight points to take the lead. Multiple runs later, match point loomed over Fant-Ewing Coliseum. Another kill by Redrow and an error by Troy spurred positivity, but just like the previous set, Troy took the set 25-17, saving ULM’s match win for another day.

Head coach Matt Kearns said he doesn’t feel the team has any gaps in the roster keeping them from winning.

“I think the only thing that we’re missing is just one tick in the win column so we can get that sense of, ‘Oh, this is how you do it,’” Kearns said. “But I think once we get that, and I do mean once, because I think it’s pretty clear that it’s coming, I think we’re going to start to get really good.” 

The Warhawks travel to Lafayette to face ULL on Friday and Saturday.

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