Mississippi University for Women volleyball suffered a second straight 3-0 defeat on Thursday night, losing to Bethel University (Tennessee) at Pohl Gymnasium. The Wildcats (10-4) showed their strength from the start, and while the Owls (6-6) had some promising moments, they weren’t able to sustain momentum or dictate play.
Set scores were 25-18, 25-11 and 25-11.
Owls head coach Halee Hensley noted the strength of their opponent after the game and knew going in that it would be a difficult challenge for her young team.
“They’ve always been a force on the court,” Hensley said of the visitors. “I expected us to play a little bit better, and we didn’t play bad. We could have done a lot of things better, but there are some great things that we did do.”
Bethel were certainly a force on Thursday, outnumbering the Owls in kills on the night, 41-14, and in aces, 11-3. The visitors maintained a powerful presence at the net throughout the match, especially with senior Hannah McGowan, who had several ruthless spikes as the Wildcats took control in the second set.
The Owls spent a lot of time doing defensive work, with Llayne Skinner and Caledonia product Maddy Suggs each producing six digs to lead the team. There were some very promising volleys where the hard work paid off, but apart from the first set, they were unable to sustain anything offensively to get back in the match.
Back-to-back sweeps are not ideal for any team, but the Owls are still at .500 on the year and persisting through a tough schedule in their second year under Hensley. It’s been measurable progress, and six wins is already more than the Owls have achieved in any season since sports returned to MUW in 2017. The team has shown fight this season and is still in a position to make something of the season.
“We’re a very young program in general, but very young athletically,” Hensley said of the team, referring to their fatigue. “6-6 is a lot better than the previous years, which I’m excited about. Right now I think we’ve kind of hit a rut, and we’re tired because we’re playing a lot. We do have early-morning practices, so we’re just tired.”
Unfortunately, the team won’t have much time to rest and recover. The Owls have a quick turnaround for their next match and will have to try and stop the losing streak against Covenant College on Friday, just a day after their defeat to Bethel. The game will be a rematch for the Owls, who lost 3-0 at Covenant in their first game this year.
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