By Taylor Lupetti (@tayclupetti):
It was a rough return to Spartan Gym for the volleyball team as it lost to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, 3-2, ending its three-game winning streak.
“We just didn’t get the execution we wanted to tonight on our strategies,” said head coach Jolene Shepardson.
After playing for two-consecutive weeks on the road, the Spartans made their way back to Downtown San Jose just in time for SJSU’s homecoming festivities and the ever-so-loud and loyal fans to show support.
“The crowd was great,” said junior outside hitter Giulia Gavio. “It’s so great to play here because we feel at home and we have our friends and family here to support us.”
The game was the fifth in-conference for both SJSU (11-5, 3-2 MW) and UNLV (5-13, 1-4 MW).
The Rebels were last in the Mountain West Conference coming into the game but were able to move up to 10th and break their nine-game losing streak. SJSU still holds its third place position in the conference.
With 14 serving errors in the match, the Spartans were showing an unfamiliar weakness on the court.
“The serving was a little untraditional for us tonight,” Shepardson said. “Whether it was our mental focus or we were trying to do too much on the endline, we need to get back into the game.”
The Spartans started off with the energy that they have familiarized themselves with this season and took the Rebels down 25-19 in set number one. The Rebels retaliated in the second set and took SJSU down 25-18.
“After the first set, we were trying to do more and come through with these amazing plays and we fell through on the game plan,” Gavio said. “We were trying to get bigger plays and it just didn’t work.”
SJSU took the third set of the night, 25-21, yet from there, UNLV took both the fourth and fifth sets 25-20 and 15-11 to seal the match.
“We just need to commit to the game plan,” Gavio said. “We just weren’t seeing things clearly.”
Pushing further to career records was senior middle blocker Nandyala Gama who, with 21-kills tonight, is only 25 away from becoming one of 14 to reach 1,000 career kills. Junior libero Luiza Andrade had 13-digs in the game, leaving her 15 away from a record 1,000 digs.
The match was the first of two for the Spartans as SJSU’s homecoming weekend continues.
The team will be back in Spartan Gym on Saturday at noon to take on the University of New Mexico and attempt to reclaim its court.
“On Saturday we are going to be hungrier, stronger and ready to fight,” Gavio said.