Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Will the real UTA Mavericks please stand up?

Dang you Halloween week. Had I not been as busy as I was last week, I would have posted a glowing report on how the UTA Mavericks volleyball team played up to their best potential and set themselves up for a great run at the top of the standings. After dropping two home matches to the two Arkansas squads at home in the first half of conference play, they promptly went on the road, limited errors and won two matches against the same two teams in a total of seven sets.

Instead, I am back to questioning why the team can't find consistency. Ironically, I expected the team to have a losing record after this past week. They played Texas State in San Marcos, then hosted Georgia State and Western Kentucky to wrap up the home schedule.

When it came to Texas State, a rare midweek conference match, I figured they would lose for a couple of reasons. I feel the Bobcats have a coaching advantage. That's not necessarily a knock in this case, as Karen Chisum has had a lot of success for a very long and sustained period of time. UTA needed five to win at CPC and I really thought Texas State would come out fired up. I didn't think we would get swept, but at least most of the sets were competitive. The 'cats just closed out exceptionally well. Our attack percentage was a little too low and theirs was a little to high. But I really didn't see that as a shock.

What was came on Friday against Georgia State. Keep in mind the Panthers were 8-17 overall and 3-8 in conference heading into the Friday night affair. This is the same Panther team that UTA swept in Atlanta. Instead of sweeping at home, or even just winning, they lost in five. I don't normally use harsh words, as I know that sports is a very emotional, in the moment type thing, but Friday's match was absolutely pathetic.

A quote from the write-up on UTAMAVS.com really stuck out to me.

"They wanted it more than us," UT Arlington coach Diane Seymour said. "That's the bottom line. They came out and wanted to win."

 WHAT? How on earth can a team that is fighting for second place and is clearly more talented not want it more? I really think that the is should now be a was. UALR will have a hard time dropping three matches the rest of the way. So now we will have to beat a team that beats Texas State as they have the tiebreaker. Given that the rest of the matches are against the bottom half of the SBC, I don't expect them to drop any more.

I get that Georgia State is battling for a conference tournament berth and UTA would really have to implode not to be in, but that doesn't excuse the Mavericks. They are battling for something too, seeding. Realistically, the Panthers have virtually no chance to advance to the NCAA tourney. With a two or three seed, UTA could. A four gets a little more dicey.

Maybe they were looking past Georgia State to Western Kentucky, but considering the 3-0 sweep at the hands of the Hilltoppers, I would say oops.

Another quote from the athletics site following the Western Kentucky meeting:

"They were just better than us today," UT Arlington coach Diane Seymour said of WKU. "I'm not sure I could put my finger on any certain skill set that we didn't do well. I thought we served well. I thought we passed the ball pretty well. We probably could have had a few more digs."

That is totally expected as WKU is a highly talented team that has been ranked this year and currently receiving votes. Sometimes your best just isn't good enough to beat a clearly better team. Mark my words, had the performance against WKU been the effort against Georgia State, the Mavs sweep.

Coach Seymour really hit what part of this team is about in that last statement. This years Mavs can block extremely well. They can pass well. They can hit decently. The digging part of the defense needs some help. When the hitters aren't hitting well, the Mavs will lose, partially because the defense will have a hard time keeping them in the match when the offense isn't racking up the kills. That's what happened all week long.

The week really hurt UTA in both the standings and didn't help the RPI rankings.

Sun Belt Standings as of 11-5

WKU 12 - 1, 22 - 5
UALR 11 - 3, 19 - 7
Texas State 8 - 6, 18 - 11
UT Arlington 8 - 6, 15 - 12
UL-Lafayette 7 - 6, 17 - 10
Arkansas State 6 - 8, 11 - 18
South Alabama 5 - 8, 10 - 13
Georgia State 4 - 9, 9 - 18
Troy 4 - 9, 9 - 18
UL-Monroe 2 - 11, 6 - 23
And the RPI of the SBC teams
56 WKU
112 UALR
121 Texas State
151 UT-Arlington
176 Arkansas State
201 South Alabama
235 Troy
247 Georgia State
290 UL-Monroe
Next up this weekend is the Alabama road trip to play the Trojans and Jaguars. UTA can't afford another performance like they did to Georgia State against two of the bottom four SBC teams. If so...well I just don't want to imagine that scenario.

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