Youth, fatigue start to show over four-match losing skid
By Devon Jeffreys
It has been a rough few weeks for Lady Saints Volleyball.
After getting off to a torrid start that yielded two six-game winning streaks and a 13-5 record, the Lady Saints are 2-5 in their last seven games after losses to Lee University and Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah.
The struggles began for Flagler on Sept. 23 in a match with Rollins College. The Lady Saints would give up a two-games-to-none lead in losing in five games to Rollins.
Coach Taylor Mott said that it was disappointing to lose to Rollins because they have become such a big rival and her team had a 2-0 lead.
“Mathematically you’re supposed to win those matches,” she said. “But that’s part of volleyball. I think that’s what makes volleyball different then any other sport. It’s just a game of momentum and it can switch from point to point.”
The team would recover to win back-to-back games over rival Embry-Riddle and Northwood but have since lost four consecutive matches.
After defeating Northwood, the Lady Saints welcomed Palm Beach Atlantic. Despite losing the first game, the Lady Saints would take a two-games-to-one lead into the fourth game but again couldn’t finish the match and fell three games to two. They would lose again to Lynn the following day under similar circumstances.
Flagler ended its homestand at 5-3 — a far cry from last year’s undefeated record at home.
“We have traditionally been much stronger at home then we have been on the road,” Mott said. “But this year, we’ve also been strong on the road.”
Mott’s team carried a 9-5 road record into a tri-match with Lee and SCAD and the results were disappointing.
Both teams came out firing and overwhelmed the Lady Saints in the back-to-back matches. Both matches would result in 3-0 Flagler losses.
“We never got in a rhythm,” Mott said. “We couldn’t get on a run. I feel like nothing went our way. We weren’t lazy and we played hard.”
The losses dropped the Lady Saints’ record to 15-10 for the season.
“I feel like we had positive attitudes,” sophomore Leah Melton said. “We just weren’t playing well. We wanted it really bad, just nothing was working out.”
Mott said there was no explanation for what went wrong in Savannah and no need to change the game plan. She attributed a portion of the struggle to fatigue and thinks the team just needs to regroup.
“The girls are still in practice in every day working hard,” Mott said. “A lot of times you hit a midseason lull where you feel you won’t get any better. They just continue to work hard and I think by the end of the season we’ll be 100 times better than we are right now.”
Leading the team have been Melton and Justine Burkhardt. Melton has posted a 1.18-block-per-game total that would lead the Sunshine State Conference if eligible. Burkhardt’s kill percentage sits at 4.01 per game which would have her ranked third in the conference.
“I just tell myself every day that this is what I’m here for,” Burkhardt said. “This is why I’m at Flagler and this is what I want to do with my life. I think everybody else feels that way too. We get to play volleyball today and that’s why I like all the matches we have played.” Burkhardt added that the team just has to focus on the little things to get better.
The Lady Saints next five matches will be at home on Oct. 13 and 14.