Home court disadvantage

Volleyball head coach upset after home loss

volleyball

Just one night after securing their first home Mid-American Conference win of the season, the Bulls fell flat against a last-in-the-MAC Central Michigan team.

The Chippewas (4-18, 1-9 Mid-American Conference) are the latest team to celebrate at Alumni Arena. The Bulls (13-9, 5-5 MAC) have been outscored in sets 13-to-4 in conference play at home. The Bulls’ home debut for the conference season was a pair of three set sweeps, while not winning a set at home until Friday against Eastern Michigan. 

Head coach Blair Brown Lipsitz is as confused as anyone.

“I thought they played really well last night,” Brown Lipsitz said Saturday after the Central game. “I thought they had a lot of heart, it was back-and-forth it was a crazy match we had really good energy in the gym from the fans. It was a really good win at home. Coming into tonight, we had one of our best practices this morning that we had all year. So to see the effort we had tonight was a little rough.”

Brown Lipsitz was very short with her responses after the game and visibly upset with her team’s performance.

“Errors, we had a ton of errors,” Brown Lipsitz said.

The Bulls had 10 attack errors in the first set alone while the Chippewas had 11 errors for the whole game.

Sophomore outside hitter Andrea Mitrovic had the worst performance of her career. She had 19 kills and 16 attack errors for a .050 kill percentage. Point after point, Mitrovic kept missing the outside corner.

Mitrovic also led the team with 3 service errors.

“That's a really bad night for her,” Brown Lipsitz said. “What we're missing right now is the depth to be able to help her out when she is having a bad night.”

Brown Lipsitz was asked about other players needing to step up.

“Also a possibility,” Brown Lipsitz said.

There were limited bright spots on the night but Brown Lipsitz pointed toward junior libero Hannah Watson and junior outside hitter Polina Prokudina.

Watson brought “a ton of energy” and Prokudina had “great swings” from the right side of the net, according to their coach. In the fourth set while down 21-13, Watson subbed off for Prokudina and told her to play with all her heart.

Playing with heart has been a point that Brown Lipsitz has emphasized all season. In a loss earlier this year to the Ball State Cardinals (17-6, 8-2 MAC), she raised her concerns about the team’s lack of heart.

“I think we have another level in us but it's just that belief system that we've been talking about all year,” Brown Lipsitz said. “They've got to believe it and got to want it. I think at times they really do and we see that.”

The Bulls played their best in the second set. In the middle of the set, the Bulls got hot and rallied off four-straight points to build an 14-10 lead. Later in the set, a kill by senior right-side hitter Megan Wernette pushed the lead up to six points and the Bulls would secure the set 25-21.

While Brown Lipsitz was disappointed with her team she was very happy to see the support from the community on the night. The Bulls hosted spirit day on Saturday with presentations from the LGBTQ community between sets.

Brown Lipsitz encouraged them to come back for what would hopefully be a better performance following the Central game.

With three home games left on the season, the Bulls need to figure out their problems fast. Brown Lipsitz does not want teams to be able to come into Alumni Arena and think they can win. The Bulls have their next game on the road Friday at 7 p.m. against the Miami (OH) RedHawks (17-5, 9-1 MAC).

Nathaniel Mendelson is the sports editor and can be reached at nathaniel.mendelson@ubspectrum.com and on Twitter @NateMendelson