The Mercer volleyball team hosted their instate rival, the Kennesaw State Owls, in Hawkins Arena on Saturday. Mercer played valiantly, but fell to the Owls late in the match. The loss marked the second five-set match of the season, but ended in a disappointing loss for the Bears. The game is the 10th-straight loss of the Atlantic Sun Conference, and the 18th-straight loss of the season.
The match started as a tossup with no clear favorite; both the Bears and the Owls had been on a losing streak before the game.
“We ran a different offense on Saturday that put our hitters in a better position to get kills. We had a much higher hitting percentage against Kennesaw St., probably the highest we've had all season,” said senior setter Carly Iannarino.
The Owls won the first two sets by a narrow margin, a four-point and six-point lead for each respective set.
“Going into set one, we knew that the Owls were going to be a good matchup for us. Unfortunately, we came out a little flat and made some stupid, yet fixable errors. We missed too many serves along with some other mistakes. At halftime, we just talked about minimizing those errors and getting ahead early, which we did in the third set, and even more so in the fourth. We couldn't get a kill in the fifth set which led to the loss,” said Iannarino.
The Bears recouped their losses in the second half of the match. They broke a 21-21 tie to take the set by three points. During the fourth match,Mercer stayed consistently ahead, winning the set by eight points.
During the the final set, Mercer initially led 7-5, but Kennesaw pulled ahead in a five-point streak. In a bitter back-and-forth volley, Mercer gained ground. However, a final three-point streak by Kennesaw sealed the match in the Owl’s favor, 15-11.
“It was disappointing that we lost, but we have to keep our heads up and look forward. I think that the adjustments that we made on Saturday will really help up get some wins to finish up the season,” said Iannarino. “We play Kennesaw St. again in a couple of weeks and I know we will be able to come out with the victory.”
The Mercer volleyball team nearly hit their watermark with a 0.210 hitting percentage for the game. The team accrued 56 kills, 167 attempts and 21 errors.
Senior Carly Iannarino led the team with 32 assists during the match, breaking 1,000 assists in her career.
“Getting 1,000 assists isn't unusual for a senior, but it's definitely something that I'm excited about. After tearing my ACL and being out for a season, it's an awesome accomplishment. It shows that my hard work post-surgery really paid off and that with determination success will come,” said Iannarino.
Iannarino also commented that the success of the team is far more important than her individual accomplishments. “We all have been working hard to continue getting better, despite our losing record. We still have eight regular season games left and with a few wins, we can really turn the season around. Ultimately, it’s the success of the team that matters the most.”
Four Mercer players hit double-digit digs, led by senior Emily Rochefort’s 23 digs. Freshman Ellie James contributed 17 kills, a team high for the match.
Last week the Mercer volleyball team played Lipscomb in a three-set loss, Northern Kentucky in a four-set loss and South Carolina Upstate in a three-set loss.
Mercer’s next conference match will be at 6 p.m. against East Tennessee State on Oct. 22.