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Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Sports

Hurricane won’t deter volleyball’s winning mindset


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Volleyball will try to dig their way out of a six-game slump despite Hurricane Matthew threatening the East Coast. | Justin Cross/The Cougar

In the middle of a six-game losing streak, the volleyball team travels to the Sunshine State this weekend for conference matches against the University of Central Florida Knights and the University of South Florida Bulls.

Originally scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday in Orlando, the team’s match against UCF has been moved up to 1 p.m. the same day and switched to USF’s campus in Tampa due to Hurricane Matthew.

“Volleyball season and hurricane season have gone along together for many years so it’s something that happens and we know it,” Head coach Kaddie Platt said. “We moved that game to Tampa, so we’re flying to Tampa and staying there for the weekend. That’s easier than flying to Orlando and going from there.”

UCF enters the contest with a 13-4 record behind a prolific offense that ranks toward the top in the conference in kills and third in hitting percentage.

Leading the way for UCF is senior outside hitter Jalé Hervey, who ranks third in the American Athletic Conference with 4.27 kills per set.

“UCF has two pretty much All-American hitters who are big and they swing a lot,” Platt said. “What’s good about that is that they’re predictable, but they swing at a higher part of the net so we have to get used to defending something that high.”

The Cougars hope to battle UCF’s bigs by not giving them the opportunity to get set in their offense. The team will rely on their conference-leading 1.59 service aces per set to score quickly against the opponent.

The second match of the road trip takes place on Sunday afternoon against USF.

USF (11-5, 2-2) is similar to UCF in their strong offensive output, ranking second in the conference in hitting percentage and third in kills and assists.

“USF is a team that runs a lot of different sets along the net, so for us it’s about vision and seeing what happens before it happens,” Platt said. “In volleyball, you can’t react at the point it happens. The biggest thing is if you serve tough against them they can’t run all their offense.”

The Cougars haven’t been complacent in their struggle. They work hard every day to improve and get out of their slump.

Junior Sarah Afflerbaugh believes that paying attention to details can help the team improves its confidence down the stretch of the season.

“We’re focusing on the little things that we’re able to control,” Afflerbaugh said. “Our main points are creating a family atmosphere with each other and our willingness to get better and get extra reps so our confidence gets higher.”

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