Tigers prey on Blue Hens
With its 3-1 win over Delaware, the two-time defending Colonial Athletic Association Champions Friday night, Towson remains undefeated in CAA play.
The Tigers (22-3, 9-0 CAA) lost the first set 25-23 to the Blue Hens (12-13, 6-3 CAA), but bounced back to take three straight 25-22, 25-22 and 25-13, to win the match.
“I thought that it was a good match for us, especially at this point in the season,” Head Coach Bruce Atkinson said. “We were very tested. I thought that we started a little slow, but we started very strong. Probably that fourth set might have been the best set of the season thus far. Overall, I think that it was a fun match to play in and a beneficial one as we move forward.”
Four players finished with only one attacking error on the match. Co-captain junior outside hitter Katy Buck recorded 14 kills, also recording her eighth “double-double” with 13 digs.
Junior middle blocker I’ishah Keliikoa also had 14 kills and senior opposite Marta Machos had 13 kills.
While she only played in three sets, senior middle blocker Karolina Sawaniewicz also recorded one error with 10 kills.
“They sort of fed off each other and the offense was spread out evenly,” Atkinson said. “I feel that each contributed to each other’s success. They were very consistent. They didn’t try to commit the silly errors and so we were very pleased with our offensive performance on the night.”
Senior middle blocker Alysha McCreary had a rough match, playing in only three sets. But she did have the set-winning kill in the third set to put Towson ahead 2-1 in the match.
“She struggled a little bit at the beginning,” Atkinson said. “We brought her back in at the end of the third set when we put her in as an outside hitter and she had the final kill of that set. Karolina went in in her place and she did so well there wasn’t a need to make any other changes.”
Atkinson said the win was an important one for Towson, especially since it will most likely face Delaware at some point in the conference playoffs.
“They’re obviously the two-time defending conference champions and they’ve won four of the last five and they’re definitely going to be featured in that conference tournament so we could very easily end up facing them again and I think that we need to be prepared,” he said. “They played a very nice match, especially the first couple sets, and they have the potential to win conference again if we don’t take care of our own business.”
The Tigers’ next match isn’t until Sunday, Nov. 4 against Georgia State.
Atkinson said that for the first half of the week the team will rest and watch game tape on its own tendencies and that it will start practicing and focusing on Georgia State in the second half of the week.
“We really feel as long as we can take care of what we control on our side, we can do well,” Atkinson said. “We still need to be more consistent with our passing and our serve-receive and we want to be able to execute a little better in transition in our attacks. We feel that we’re steadily progressing and if we can improve on one or two things per week, we feel like we can be in good shape at the end of the season.”
Injuries were a key factor in last year’s playoff run and this season Atkinson said he wants to keep the starting lineup as healthy as possible.
“We just need to focus on playing our game and the ideal situation for us would be to get in and out as quickly as possible during these matches to be able to limit our exposure to injury,” he said.
The Tigers have three matches left until the end of the regular season: Sunday at Georgia State (4-17, 2-7 CAA), Friday, Nov. 9 at home versus UNC-Wilmington (10-14, 2-6 CAA) and Saturday, Nov. 10 at home against William & Mary (13-10, 5-4 CAA). With three wins ahead of second-place Northeastern, Towson will only need to win one of its final three matches to clinch the CAA and earn the right to host the conference tournament on Nov. 16.