Lady Lions rough conference start continues

The Lady Lions saw their losing streak stretch to eight with losses against the Northwestern State Lady Demons and the University of Central Arkansas Sugar Bears on Thursday, Sept. 29 and Friday, Sept. 30, respectively.

The Lady Demons dominated the first set early, jumping out to a 1-6 lead. The Lady Lions would not catch up in the set, with the final score reading 14-25 in favor of the Lady Demons. Former Southeastern track star Tamra Grayson saw action for the majority of the first set, tallying one kill.

“She did okay, but I took her out this match because we didn’t need her size. The other team was not a big team; they were a scrappy team. So I tried to put someone in with a little more experience just for this particular matchup,” said Head Coach Geno Frugoli. “We’re working with her every day and we’re seeing improvements every day. But you’re talking about a girl who’s only been playing volleyball for two months. I can tell you by this time next year she’ll be the most physical kid in the conference. If she can just learn a little more technique, she’ll be able to go out and really do some damage against a lot of the teams that we play.”

The second set offered more of the same, albeit a closer score. The Lady Lions matched their opponent point for point, before Northwestern’s Kelly Jimenez recorded a single kill, which was quickly followed by a kill by Vanessa Coleman. The Lady Lions dropped the second set, 21-25.

Things were looking up in the third set, when a block by freshman outside hitter Elizabeth Ramee put the Lady Lions up 13-9. A kill by sophomore setter Lindsey Young concluded the third set with the Lady Lions coming out on top, 25-19.

The fourth set was not so kind to the Lady Lions, when the Lady Demons managed to pull away, 13-20. But two attack errors by Jimenez, a kill by senior setter Arianne Cruckshank and a kill by sophomore middle blocker Kinsey Williams put the Lady Lions back in the game, 18-21, before the Lady Demons ended it 20-25, and winning the match in four sets.

“I think their confidence is going down a bit, but we saw them battle back again today. As long as they’re fighting hard and trying to learn, eventually we’ll get there,” said Frugoli. “I still think our goal is to come in eighth place in the conference. We still have so much conference play left, so if we can continue to get better and knock off a couple these teams here and there, I think that’s more of a realistic goal.”

On Friday, the Lady Lions were swept three matches to none, bringing the conference record to 0-4.

Still, increased crowd attendance has not gone unnoticed by the team.

“I can’t say enough about how the Greeks are supporting us. I feel like having that energy right on the court means so much, but then I look around and I see parents and friends and I’m seeing people in the community just showing up, which is probably something that hasn’t been done around here,” said Frugoli. “The attendance numbers are going up. I think everyone sees the improvement we’re making, and that wins will come with time.”