By: Daniel Cress
A ruckus crowd was on hand for the Thunder women’s volleyball home opener, an eventual four set loss to the Durham College Lords.
After a first set 25-21 win, inconsistency and streaky play did the Thunder in as they would go on to lose three straight sets 25-8, 26-24 and 25-21.
“It’s about wanting and willing yourself to the big points,” said head coach Everton Senior. “We didn’t play the big points well enough and that cost us.”
Despite the lop-sided second set, Senior feels this was the team’s best performance of the season.
Middle Alix Burkart agrees with her coach.
“We’re definitely headed in the right direction. This was the best game we’ve played all season and we can only get better from here,” said Burkart.
The Thunder were able to keep pace with the Lords but could never maintain momentum long enough to get a win.
“We need big time players to step up in big time situations. I think that was the difference,” said Senior.
The Thunder struggled with streaky play all night, putting up points in bunches only to go on runs giving up multiple points.
“When we do get down a point we need to focus on coming right back and not allowing them to get more,” said middle Breann Wheeler.
The Thunder came out of the gate strong, reeling off four straight points on their way to winning the first set, ramping up the noise in the crowd.
“Having big cheers when we had a good play helps so much,” said Burkart. “Even when you make a mistake they’re cheering you on and chirping the other team.”
The strong start hit a wall in the second set as the Lords dominated the inexperienced Thunder team.
With the game tied at one set a piece the Thunder regrouped in the third playing well in a back and forth set, trading points, until the Lords pulled away and pushed the Thunder to the brink.
The Thunder got off to a slow start in the fourth and were playing catch up from the get go.
Burkart gave the team some life with two of her team leading three blocks coming in rapid succession stuffing the Lords.
“[The blocks] came at the right time, they helped bring everybody else up, they help you with your personal game, and felt really awesome,” said Burkart.
The strong defense wouldn’t be enough to propel the Thunder, who again gave up a run of points to the Lords to close out the game.
The killer instinct was lacking from the Thunder who had opportunities to win sets but couldn’t find the final points.
“We’re going to be in a lot of matches like that this year, and we’ve got to start finding ways to win big points that we’re not wining right now,” said Senior.
Senior thinks his team has enough skill, but needs to be confident in their abilities.
“We need to have all six players out there on the court all feeling confident in their games and that’s when consistency will come,” said Senior.