The writing has been on the wall for a little while at this point. Coach Sarah Smith’s volleyball squad had been teetering just above the .500 mark all season. They would lose two matches, then win one, narrowly staying above the demarcation line of athletics. Now, they have finally fallen below it.
This past Tuesday, the Rams traveled to the Keystone State to take on the Indiana University of Pennsylvania. The match lasted the minimum three sets, as IUP downed Shepherd 27–25, 25–22, 25–19. The match only lasted 75 minutes. The Rams kept all of the sets during the match close, but all in all, it just was not enough.
Senior middle hitter Meg Kenny had a good day for the Rams. She posted seven kills and three blocks to pace Shepherd. Bay Shore, N.Y. resident Melani Lewis added an impressive combination of five kills and nine digs. Junior setter Taylor Belella helped the Rams in a major way, contributing 16 assists to the cause. Freshman Delaware native Lauren Summa had eight digs while her fellow freshman Tommie Jo David also added eight digs. However, it was not enough, as this match saw the Rams fall back to .500.
The Rams headed back to the Mountain State to take on the Pioneers of Glenville State this past Friday. It was another disappointing result for the Rams, as they once again fell in the minimum three sets. For the second straight match, the total length of the competition was just 75 minutes. Glenville downed the Rams in straight sets 25–21, 27–25, 25–19.
Melani Lewis had a solid evening, posting an impressive nine kills for Shepherd. Ohio native Valerie Bour also got in on the spree, adding seven kills for the Rams. Freshman Tommie Jo David had a fantastic 20 assists on the night while fellow freshman Lauren Summa added ten digs. Kayla Walker and Anna Roper added six kills apiece for the Rams. However, it was all for naught as the Rams would go on to lose the match.
The loss to Glenville could very well be the turning point in Shepherd’s season. For much of the campaign, the team had done just enough to hover right above the .500 mark. Therein lies the problem with hovering around .500. Eventually things go bad, and you find yourself staring up at those who have passed you. The squad still sits two wins above .500 in the conference standings, but it is not all peachy in the Mountain East Conference. West Virginia State and Concord are nipping right on the Rams heels and could pass them soon.
At least the Rams will be able to enjoy the comforts of home these next few weeks. Their next opponents are West Chester, Notre Dame, Urbana, Fairmont State and West Virginia Wesleyan. If the Rams want to make up some ground in the Mountain East, this is definitely the time to do so. Four of their five upcoming opponents are also Mountain East members. It is getting fairly late in the season. The time to turn around the season is now.