Tuesday, November 12, 2013

And I am Free....Free Fallin'

Tom Petty co-wrote that song as a reminiscence of childhood past, but the title easily pertains to the Mavericks volleyball team and their place in the Sun Belt standings.

I'm not going to go into much detail about the matches as a whole, the same criticisms I have written all season still apply: no consistency on offense, defensive not quite where it needs to be, mental fortitude up and down more than a Six Flags roller coaster. Add a five-match losing streak, all in conference play, and a team that was once fighting for second place in the SBC will be fighting to finish above .500 in conference.

After dropping three matches the previous week, on the road at Texas State and two at College Park Center, UTA traveled to Alabama to face South Alabama and Troy. Both teams were below .500 in both conference and overall play. In short, these should have been victories to a team that is a threat in the conference tournament.

South Alabama is having a pretty good year, by their standards. After beating UTA 3-1, they swept last place Louisiana-Monroe and are now 8-8 in SBC play and 13-13 overall. If, and this is a big if with Western Kentucky remaining and the SBC tourney coming up, they can finish above .500, it will be the first time since 1995. In short, this is a team UTA should beat, even in a down year. I don't care if this was on the road. UTA is clearly a better team talent-wise.

As bad as that hurt, the Troy match was the worst for me. They lost 3-2 and looked like world-beaters in the sets they won and needed the Bennie Hill Theme in the sets they lost. In a Las Vegas, neon lights kinda way, the fourth set really illustrates the problem with the team right now. With UTA leading the match 2-1 and Troy leading the fourth set 11-10, the Trojans completed a nine-point run to take a commanding 20-10 lead. It wasn't so much what they did, but rather what UTA did for Troy. UTA scored more points for the Trojans than they themselves did in the stretch.

Kill Troy, 12-10
Attack error UTA, 13-10
Attack error UTA, 14-10
Timeout UTA
Attack error UTA, 15-10
Kill Troy, 16-10
Attack error UTA, 17-10
Attack error UTA, 18-10
Attack error UTA, 19-10
Service ace Troy, 20-10

For those keeping score, six UTA attack errors, two Troy kills and one Troy ace turn a competitive set into a laugher.

By the way, did you know UTA is in a race for seeding in the conference tournament?

The team better figure the thing out or the season will end pretty soon. Right now, UTA is in a three-way tie for fourth with South Alabama and Louisiana-Lafayette, the latter they happen to play on Friday. They won the match in Arlington 3-0, but the Cajuns have been playing much better of late. Currently, they are the only SBC team in two years to beat Western Kentucky.

That match is about as do or die as there is right now.Depending on how the rest shakes out, could also be the first round match-up for both teams in the SBC tourney.

After the Cajuns, the Mavs visit Louisiana-Monroe. I have a bunch of "if the Mavs lose to Monroe then I will..." ready, but I will hold off until the weekend is done and hope I don't need them.

Sun Belt Standings
WKU 14-1, 24-5
UALR 12-4, 20-8
Texas State 10-6, 20-11
Louisiana-Lafayette 8-8, 18-12
UTA 8-8, 15-14
South Alabama 8-8, 13-13
Arkansas State 7-9, 12-19
Troy 6-10, 11-19
Georgia State 4-11, 9-20
Louisiana-Monroe 2-14, 6-26

Sun Belt RPI
WKU 47
UALR 114
Texas State 115

UTA 176
Arkansas State 195

South Alabama 197
Louisiana-Lafayette 212
Troy 235
Georgia State 258
Louisiana-Monroe 288

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