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The Crimson Hawks volleyball squad travels to Seton Hill University and California University of Pennsylvania for more Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference play Friday and Saturday, as they try to improve their 4-11 record.
Seton Hill will face IUP with a 14-3 record and a 3-1 conference record while Cal U is tied with three other teams for the Western Division’s top spot with a 4-0 conference record, 11-4 overall.
Each game means another road trip for the Crimson Hawks. Indiana University of Pennsylvania opens the home portion of their schedule Oct. 8 against Clarion University.
Head coach Aline Scott said the road is a good time for her team to bond.
“Road trips really help with spending time together and bond[ing],” Scott said. “As far as playing, it takes a toll on you. I am ready to come home, but this weekend’s travel is not so bad.”
IUP’s match against the Griffins is scheduled for a 7 p.m. start in Greensburg against a team Scott described as “scrappy.”
“I think we’re going to engage in a lot of rallies,” Scott said. “This is going to be a very good defensive effort for us.
“They’re just a scrappy team. Whoever can make the least amount of errors will win that battle.”
The Vulcans, led by junior Laurel Miller, are IUP’s next challenge following their match in Greensburg.
“They’re a strong, offensive team,” Scott said. “I’m going to need my blockers to be very good that day in order to create opportunities on our side to score.”
IUP is coming off a weekend where they earned a record of 1-3 in the PSAC Crossover event, a run that Scott called “inconsistent.”
Since the crossover event, Scott said, as the team matures, the consistency will get better.
“Practices are very good,” she said. “It’s just being able to do it under pressure is what we’ve been struggling with.
“I have a lot of young kids on the floor, and as they get more experience, those things will come.”
Scott said the veterans of the group are the ones that keep things more positive, but they also are learning alongside the younger group of players.
“In a way everyone is sort of a freshman because everything is new,” Scott said. “They’re getting used to me and my style, and everybody is sort of in the same boat.”
One of those leaders, Elizabeth Sova (junior, math education), has emerged as a “go-to” player for Scott.
“When she is having a good night, it is hard for the other teams to stop her,” Scott said. “She is fundamental in how we play, and she’s been learning the type of work ethic I expect, and she has been rising to the occasion.”
Sova leads the Crimson Hawks with 138 kills, which averages out to 2.60 kills per set.
Another leader that Aline mentioned was Meghan Schneider (sophomore, psychology), who ranks third in kills (57).
For Scott, the learning experience is not just for her players.
“Every day I realize how much I didn’t know as an assistant coach,” Scott said. “You are re-evaluating yourself constantly and how you are doing things; it’s been an unbelievable experience.”
Two wins against Seton Hill and Cal U would put IUP’s record at 6-11.
Scott said anything short of two victories is a failure.