The Wolverine volleyball team played an exhibition game against the Slovenian National Team Wednesday night losing 3-1 (21-25, 21-25, 25-17, 19-25). The game was the return of Jaicee Kuresa. She got four kills, an assist, and four digs in her debut match.
As a team the Wolverines fell behind early in the first set 2-7 and struggled to overcome the early deficit. At one point they were down 9-14 and struggled with the front line play of the Slovenians. In atypical fashion the Wolverines struggled to score on long vollies, something they had been doing well at in previous matches.
The match was also the debut for a number of freshmen. Tawny Hughes, Kalani Norris, Katie Fritzler, and Jaramy Barney all saw their first action of the season.
“It was nice for me to be able to see what some of these young kids did,” said coach Atoa, “We are going to need these girls going forward against some of the tougher teams.”
The set ended on a net touch call that was symbolic of the lack of execution in the first set by the Wolverines.
In the second set the Wolverines jumped out to an early 4-1 start before giving it back and going down 7-4. The exemplary moment of the match happened a couple of times, Brookelyn Campbell would set a teammate up, the teammate would get her kill blocked, then someone would pass it to Brookelyn, another set, another block, repeat…until eventually the Slovenians would score a point. The Slovenian serves really caused problems for the wolverines causing an abundance of errant digs.
“Their aggressive serves really hurt us,” noted Atoa, “We handled it OK at the beginning but by the end we really struggled.”
Late in the match the Wolverines made a run to get the score to 18-20, the Slovenians proved to be too much for them as they again ended the match on a touching the net error.
“We didn’t bring the fire,” observed junior Erica Nish. “It took us till the third set go get after it. That happened against NAU as well and we fell short.”
The third set featured another quick start by the Wolverines. This time, however, they manage to hold on to it, leading throughout the game. It was a close game at 13-13 then the wolverines began to pull away, eventually winning on an ace by sophomore Brookelyn Campbell.
The fourth set was a return to the earlier struggles. The girls started out even and hung around, even snagging a lead 16-12.
Then the Slovenians took over, going on a 13-3 run to end the game 25-19.
“We really didn’t pass the ball,” noted Atoa, “We really struggled to side out and they took it to us. They were the better team.”
Now the wolverines prepare to play the Michigan Wolverines Friday in the Activity Center as the first game of the La Quinta Inn & Suites Invitational. Also included in the invitational are Santa Clara and Cal Poly.