Explorers can’t find win vs. Tigers
After an unusually slow start to the match, Towson (12-3) came back to defeat the La Salle Explorers (3-12) 3-1 Tuesday night.
The Tigers lost the first set 25-18, but started the second with an 11-point streak that carried them to a 25-12 set win. The team improved its hitting percentage from .176 in the first set to .552 by the fourth set.
Despite the win, Head Coach Bruce Atkinson said the team took a step backward.
“Certain individuals played well, but as a team, … we struggled a little bit,” he said. “You look at the numbers, and three hitters had great numbers, then the others were subpar. If we’re going to do well in the conference, we can’t have 50 percent of our hitters perform in a single match.”
Those three hitters were junior outside hitter Dayane Van Ass, junior middle blocker I’ishah Keliikoa and senior middle blocker Marta Machos.
Both Van Ass and Keliikoa did not record an error in the match while Machos had one.
Van Ass recorded 12 kills, Keliikoa had 13 and Machos had 11.
Atkinson said knowing the block attributed to Van Ass and Keliikoa’s success.
“They’re both smart hitters,” he said. “I think those are the two that see the block the best on our team. We have others who maybe have more power, but sometimes they’ll just go up there and swing away.”
Atkinson praised Machos’ offense, and said that her defensive skills still needed some work, but that she’s already doing much better than earlier in the season.
“I think that she’s working hard and improving,” he said. “When she came in off the bench she had a couple of blocks right off the bat, so I don’t think that even two weeks ago that would have been the case. If she can hold her own defensively, we feel great about the way that she swings.”
After Tuesday’s match, Keliikoa jumped to the top of the Colonial Athletic Association leader board in hitting percentage.
Before the match she was in second, but took over the top spot with a .385 percentage. Van Ass also made it up to fifth with a .314 percentage.
Keliikoa said she couldn’t have the success she did without getting good passes.
Atkinson described junior outside hitter Buck’s .143 hitting percentage as uncharacteristic.
“I think that I can expect her to come back stronger than ever on Friday,” he said. “I think that [her play] maybe affected the entire team a little bit because she’s rarely off like that. I think people were sort of taken aback a little bit by that, but it’s not something that I’m worried about.”
Co-captain and senior setter Kirven, in addition to being named the CAA Co-Offensive Player of the Week, defended her spot on top of the assists leader board. She now has 633 assists for a 12.41 assists per set average.
The Tigers will resume action on Friday when they open up CAA play at home against the Delaware Blue Hens.
Buck said that it should be a tough game because of how competitive both teams are.
“I think it’s going to be a pretty heated game,” she said. “They’re going to come in pretty fired up because we swept them in all six sets last year. But they also got to NCAAs and we lost first round, so it’s going to be a pretty good match.”