The biggest opponent the Tribe faced was not lined up across the net – it was themselves.
Despite opening up their conference schedule with a 3-1 win against Hofstra Friday night, the College (7-6, 1-0 CAA) was lackluster at points throughout the match, thanks to their own mistakes.
“Its good to get your first conference win, but we need to pass better and we need to execute on the game plan better.” Head Coach Melissa Shelton ’91 said.
Although the Tribe’s winning was weak, some players shined, including senior outside hitter Erin Skipper, who tallied a match-high 19 kills, a .356 attacking percentage and 10 digs.
“Tonight was Erin [Skipper’s] night,” Shelton said.
To start the match, The Tribe found themselves leading early in the first set, 7-3, taking advantage of multiple Pride errors, but fell victim to passing woes that allowed Hofstra to climb later in the set to within two points, 21-20. Then, the momentum swung back to the College after senior setter Cassie Crumal, who accumulated 40 assists and nine digs on the night, sent a pass near the middle of the net that found fellow classmate Ginny Bray, who finished with a match-high seven block-assists on top of six kills, who was winding up for the put down.
But Bray was forced to adjust since the pass came low. Unable to solidly connect, Bray was still able to tip the ball over the net and find a bare piece of real estate in between the Hofstra defense, handing the point to the Tribe.
After a Pride timeout and only a couple of points later, the senior duo unintentionally connected in the same manner and in the same location on the floor, scoring another point for the Tribe, proving to be effectively ineffective in the College’s late-set push that resulted in a 25-21 victory.
The College’s good fortunes continued at the start the second set, taking another early lead, 5-1. But then, the Tribe started to pile up passing errors and saw the lead and the set slip away.
“We couldn’t build the momentum in game two. We would have a great play and then serve it out.” Shelton said. “And that’s really inexcusable because when it comes down to it, [serving] is like a freethrow – you could shoot 90 percent in practice but when the pressures on and the whistle blows and the fans are here it’s a totally different mental ballgame.”
With the match tied 1-1, the College came out in full force in the third set as a completely different team. After a streak of kills and blocks, the College built an 8-2 lead. Then, they would just pile on, never allowing Hofstra to even come within striking distance and taking the set 25-17.
The Tribe faced more resistance in the fourth set, in part due to their own errors. The College found set and match point, 24-20, after Hofstra was unable to handle a Tribe team block. But, with the crowd sensing the final point of the night, the College could not deliver on the following two points, committing back-to-back errors and shrinking their lead to one, 24-23.
On the next point, a Celine Alasomuka dig, one of a team-high 20 digs for the freshman libero, flailed long and over the net surely resulting in an easy kill for the Pride which would push the set into extra points. Instead the Hofstra defense could not control the ball and it lazily fell to the ground and the crowd erupted in the College victory.
“Its exciting to get our first conference win. We played really well as a team but there are obviously things we need to work on, but we got the win.” Skipper said.