Volleyball Opens SLC Play Thursday
Sept. 22, 2010
ARLINGTON, Tex. - At this time last week, UT Arlington hoped to get a spark before heading onto the road for two weeks to open conference play.
The Mavs might have instead ignited a full-out fire.
UTA swept the UT Arlington Hilton Invitational, winning the tournament championship by beating UTEP and Prairie View A&M in three sets and then earning a win in a hard-fought, five-set match against North Texas.
"I think that's exactly what you wanted to see out of us," UTA coach Diane Seymour said. "To be able to sweep UTEP was a confidence-builder for us and then to get into a dogfight with North Texas was something that we needed as well."
Now the Mavericks will try to continue that momentum into the Southland Conference season, starting when they travel to UTSA.
Winning away from Texas Hall has proven difficult for UTA this season. The Mavs are 6-1 at home, but winless in seven matches on the road or on a neutral court.
That has been the way the UTSA-UTA series has trended as well.
"I think we mirror each other pretty well," Seymour said. "Our style of play is pretty similar and all that's happened over the course of the last five years is we win at home and they win at home. We hope to rectify that situation."
UTSA returns five starters and its libero from last year. The only new addition in the starting lineup is setter Kelsey Schwirtlick, who has averaged 9.47 assists per set to start the year and ranks second in the league in that category.
Seymour said, after watching film, the Roadrunners look better this year than they did in 2009.
Still, there is reason for optimism for the Mavericks as the match Thursday night at 6:30 in San Antonio. Not only did they cut down on errors - attack and service - last weekend, they also hit much better.
The Mavs hit a season-best .307 against UTEP and hit .253 against Prairie View A&M. Those two matches marked the first time all year they finished with an attack percentage above .250.
Even in the five-set win against North Texas, UTA managed a .175 hitting percentage.
Seymour said everything came together over the weekend. The back line - libero Alicia Shaffer in particular - passed much better. Setter Raegan Daniel made a conscious effort to get more teammates involved in the attack.
Then, when the outside hitters got their opportunities, Amanda Aguilera, Tara Frantz and Bianca Sauls made the most of them. Those three combined for a stellar .239 hitting percentage over the weekend.
"It was a very bright spot to see us come in last weekend and put up those kinds of offensive numbers," Seymour said.
Now, she hopes, the improved numbers can lead to one more important number over the next two weeks - a non-round number in the win-column away from home.