The Owls were outplayed in virtually every facet of the game in a 25-16, 25-21, 25-18 loss to Oral Roberts on Saturday night to wrap up the Owls Invitational at the KSU Convocation Center.
The loss also broke a three-match winning streak for Kennesaw State (3-4).
“It’s a little disappointing, but we have people that continually show up, and we’re seeing good things,” Kennesaw State coach Karen Weatherington said. “We’re still a program in the making and you need to keep that as a reminder. It’s still early.”
Oral Roberts (4-3) was the better offensive team Saturday with a .417 attack percentage, compared to Kennesaw State’s .267.
The Owls also struggled to get points on serve. The Golden Eagles dominated on first-ball kills against Kennesaw State’s serve and kept mistakes to a minimum.
Oral Roberts was also stronger on front-row defense. It had eight block assists, while Kennesaw State had none.
If the Owls could do it all over again, they likely would have been much less conservative on serve. They also didn’t seem pleased with the lack of adjustments made to what the Golden Eagles were giving them. Although Oral Roberts got respect for upsetting Arkansas in five sets last week, the Owls aren’t using that as an excuse.
“We played down to their level,” said senior outside hitter Alyssa Lang, who was named to the Owls Invitational all-tournament team. “That hindered us in the long run, and that’s why we lost.”
Other problems for Kennesaw State included slow starts and allowing Oral Roberts to go on late service runs. Oral Roberts also passed better, which explained the high attack percentage.
Oral Roberts’ offensive numbers were spread out between six different players, with Elizabeth McVicker totaling 15 kills. Olivia Ophus added 12 kills and Sheina Fernandes had nine.
Lang and newcomer Justine Young tied with 13 kills apiece to lead the Owls. Lang also led with 12 digs, and Sara Metroka, who was also named to the all-tournament team, had 34 assists.
It also didn’t help that the Owls were behind for practically the entire match. The only time they led in the match was early in the third set, and their biggest lead came at 3-1 on an ace by former Harrison High School standout Holly Knight.
Their brief third set was quickly lost as a result to winning quick points on first-ball kills, and the Golden Eagles used a late third-set service run to take the Owls out of the match. Those late runs were a trend in the first and second sets as well, and Kennesaw State wasn’t serving well enough to keep up.
“Serve-receive, ball control and ball-handling were just shaky for us,” Weatherington said. “When you face teams like this, who just
beat a good SEC team, you got to serve tough. That’s what predicated our lack of ability to stay in transition and keep matching points. We didn’t take risk on our serving. We were trying to be conservative.”
The Golden Eagles picked apart Kennesaw State on serve in the first set and took an 11-4 lead to keep the Owls at bay. The Owls then rallied from an early three-point deficit in the second set, but a lengthy service run by the Golden Eagles gave them a 22-16 lead.
The third set could have gone either way before Oral Roberts came through with a four-point service run to extend its lead to 21-17, and it used a two-point run to win the match.
What prevented Kennesaw State from jumping ahead in the third set was not winning on serve. The Golden Eagles won 10 points on first-ball kills.