Expensive Lesson from Playoff Contender

Shun Hasegawa

For those who didn’t attend the September 29 UMB women’s volleyball home game, believe or not, the team was at full tilt against playoff-repeater Plymouth State University, ranked at 12th in New England. That is, until sophomore setter Juliane Farias sustained an elbow injury, spoiling her best-of-the-match play midway through the first set and forcing her to sit out the rest of the game. After this unexpected vacancy, the Beacons gave in to the Panthers by 0-3 (30-23, 30-5, 30-23). As of October 3, the Beacons are 2-6 (0-4 against Little East Conference foes). The Beacons proudly acted as the true proprietors of the Clark Athletic Center. Sophomore outside hitter Kassandra Rateau broke out the war with her thunderous spike. Other Beacons, with their adrenalin boiling, competed evenly with the decorated intruders by 12-14. When the spoils of the next rally nearly fell on the Panthers, Farias flashed toward the orb and dove to dig it. The ball paralyzed the Panthers, causing them to drop on their court as the 55 infatuated Beacons fans were delighted that the momentum was in favor of their beloved team.

Despite getting close by one point, the price of glory stunned UMB. When audiences looked towards heroine, Farias, she was frowning with a sore right elbow. She sat on the bench for the rest of the game. According to the UMB Department of Athletics, no swelling or bruising was found, though there was no medical confirmation made. Third year head coach Ken Goon commented about the influence of Farias’ injury. “We would have upset [the score] to win the first set if [Farias] didn’t get hurt. After [the injury], we just got scared mentally, without our No.1 setter,” he said. Freshman Erin Towne skillfully took over the critical position, for the first time in her short collegiate career, to help UMB chase the Panthers by 21-22. But PSU benefited from the Beacons’ unforced errors to cap the opening game 30-23, and to set the stage for the upcoming score-fest. From the beginning of the second set, UMB was drained of its energy and motivation, as the home team piled up mistakes, and the Panthers bashed the floor with their upper-class smashes. With two seven-consecutive-point runs, PSU ruthlessly harassed the Beacons by 30-5. Cruising in a two-set lead, the Panthers’ players were loosened up enough to titter before an umpire called that the game was over. UMB ruffled the ill-mannered guests with a 9-7 run. In the next play, a Panther managed to block rising-star freshman Denise M. Hill. But the Beacons’ No.1 attacker never bent her knees down. Synchronizing with Towne’s toss, Hill avenged the home court by breaking through that same PSU player to help the Beacons’ brilliant 19-12 run.

Consistency was what UMB lacked in the match. A probable comeback story was again prevented by repeated passing mistakes, as PSU reduced the magic number with a fatal 14-2 run. Playing contritely, the Beacons abandoned the final set by 30-23, losing one of the four rare occasions to show-up at the Harbor.

Rateau pointed out lack of communication as the main factor of this defeat, saying, “I don’t think they had great technique. [The] difference was they spoke up more than we did. We have to talk more when we play.”

Coach Goon wasn’t satisfied with his team’s passing game. “If you don’t pass really well, you can’t play. You have to do it very well to minimize your other mistakes,” he commented. “In the first set, we did well. But toward the end, we made a lot of unforced mistakes in passing. We just didn’t play our potential.”

Adams led the Beacons with eight points, or five kills and three aces in the 70-minute match. Towne scored six times by killing five and one ace to follow, despite contributing as a setter with ten assists for more than half of the game. Goon suggested that Towne fill the hole left by Farias until her comeback. The Beacons will seek a victorious road to Regis College on October 9, before hosting Salem State College at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, October 12.