After last weekend’s conference opener slip up against Angelo State, the UTPB volleyball team is looking to recover this week when the Falcons take the road to face Midwestern State and Texas Woman’s.
The Falcons will begin this week’s matchups with a 6 p.m. game Friday against Midwestern State in Wichita Falls.
They’ll close out the weekend with a 2 p.m. contest the next day against Texas Woman’s in Denton.
UTPB (9-3, 0-1) is coming off a loss in straight sets to conference leaders Angelo State (12-2, 2-0) last Saturday at Falcon Dome.
It was the second time that the Falcons have lost to the Rambelles this season as UTPB also lost to Angelo State in a nonconference tournament earlier this season.
During this week’s press conference, UTPB head coach Tim Loesch lamented his team’s slow start as the Falcons were crushed in the first set 25-11, couldn’t get much going in the second set, 25-17, and then kept things close in the third set, 26-24.
“We had a good practice during the week, leading up to the game,” Loesch said. “We just started off slow. It’s something that we have to do in our pregame preparation. We have to get the team more hyped and excited. It was our first conference game too so I know there was a little nervousness and things like that but our game days are long and drawn out. We start a couple of hours before the match with warm-ups and stuff like that. I think the players just lost some of their enthusiasm or excitement and started off flat. We have to learn and to come out and compete for the very first point and that’s a valuable lesson that we learned early in the season.”
With conference play now up and running, Loesch said the team has to find its rhythm.
“We played some good conference teams in nonconference play but it’s different when conference playoffs and everything is on the line,” Loesch said. “We just have to increase our intensity.”
But just like with Angelo State, UTPB has already faced Texas Woman’s (10-3, 2-0) this season, losing to the Pioneers in straight sets in a tournament game in Lubbock two weeks ago.
However, the Falcons are currently focused on their first game this week which comes against a Midwestern State team that Loesch said may not have a good record (3-11, 0-2) but is more dangerous than everyone thinks.
“First, we have to play Midwestern State,” Loesch said. “We don’t want to overlook them. They may not have a great record but they’ve been impressive in all of their matches this season. They’re going to be on their home court and they’re going to be trying to come out and win. To beat them the way that we want to, we need to play our best. We don’t want to worry about what they do or what the other teams do.”
The Mustangs’ only wins this season have come against West Alabama, Western Colorado and St. Edward’s.
Midwestern State is coming off a 3-1 loss to St. Mary’s from last Saturday in San Antonio.
Intensity and communication are two big things that Loesch said his team needs to work on.
Playing hard from the start and not waiting for the third set is another key issue.
“We just need to take care of the ball on our side of the net,” Loesch said. “Angelo State played well. They’re a great team. But we didn’t play well on our side of the net. We didn’t challenge them until the third set when it was back and forth. Then we showed them that we can play with them. But we have to do that from the first point. Against Midwestern State, we just want everyone to give their best from the first point to the last point and then do it again the next day against Texas Woman’s. They’re two totally different teams so we’ll have to make some slight adjustments to our defense and stuff like that. But on offense, we have to be more consistent and more aggressive and take the fight to them so that they have to make adjustments.”
Texas Woman’s is coming off a 3-1 win over St. Edward’s and will face Angelo State on the road Friday before coming back home to play against UTPB.
The Pioneers are currently on a seven-game winning streak.
Loesch talked about the challenges of being on the road this week.
“It’s a business trip,” Loesch said. “There’s not a lot of time to go sightseeing or anything else. It’s get on a bus, Thursday afternoon, miss some classes, get to the hotel and have a team meeting and then do some study hall. Go get lunch and go to the gym and play as hard as we can. Then we jump on a bus, eat on the way, Then do it again the next day. It’s a tight schedule. It’s doable. It’s not like it’s a bad schedule. But we have to be on point because we don’t have our home crowd and we’re not sleeping in our own beds. There’s going to be a lot of challenges on the road. It’s a tougher environment.”