The volleyball team (5-12, 3-5 Ivy) will embark on a four-game away stretch over the next two weeks, starting with matches at Penn (10-9, 4-4) and Princeton (6-12, 2-6) this weekend.
After a disappointing blocking performance in their 3-2 loss to Cornell, head coach Jon Wilson knows what the team needs to do moving forward.
“Blocking is the most fickle skill of all of them,” Wilson said. “It takes a lot of synchrony, it takes timing, it takes a little luck, the hitter is always changing her swing, the set energy is always different so it’s the skill that takes the most experience, the most timing.”
Given that, the Lions have been showing encouraging signs during practice.
“It’s always a challenge to get the blocking right,” Wilson said. “I think it’s getting better. There was some good one-on-one blocking today, and it’s also the skill that takes absolutely the most focus. As we mature as a team and as we get more reps and experience in the gym, that focus part will come up and that will be the stimulus to take our block to a whole new level.”
The Lions hope that what they have been working on in practice will translate over to the court in their rematch against Princeton. When the Lions last played the Tigers at home, they lost 3-1 in four close sets.
“I think we’re really excited for this weekend. It’s a chance to show Princeton that we’re a much better team than we were a couple weeks ago,” sophomore Katarina Jovicic said. “I think practices have been a lot more intense the past couple of weeks—not necessarily in the amount of stuff that we’ve been doing, but you can see that everyone’s focus is there and that we all want to win. We want to make the end of this season a winning season.”
However, the Lions have shown improvement in the middle of the court. Despite losing senior Savannah Fletcher to injury, Jovicic and first-year Kesi Neblett have stepped up, both in blocking and establishing an offensive presence.
“Kesi is doing a great job too. She’s an amazing blocker. She’s coming in and getting touches on everything,” Jovicic said. “As a middle blocker, you help out your back row by letting them know which hitters are where. Just establishing communication from the beginning makes the defense and the blocking that much easier.”
The effort put in during recent matches suggests that there is a chance for improvement during the remainder of the season.
“It’s a double-edged sword. We’re satisfied with winning only. We haven’t won enough, and yet we’ve competed well,” Wilson said. “So we’re optimistic about the fact that we’ve been in most matches missing key players. So in that sense, the team has responded well. And we have to win more games. We have to be optimistic about what we’ve done and we have to find a way to win more often.”
The Light Blue will face Princeton on Friday at 7 p.m. and Penn on Saturday at 5 p.m.