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Volleyball falls three times in tournament, continues losing season

The women’s volleyball team traveled to the 20th Annual Holiday Inn Jefferson Cup Invitational at Memorial Gym in Charlottesville, Va., where they took on the University of Virginia and George Washington Sept. 3 and played Liberty Sept. 4, coming away with three losses.

The Ospreys (0-6) faced UVA (5-1) for their first match of the tournament. The Cavaliers took an early lead and finished out the first set to win 25-13, according to a press release. On the second match, UNF stayed close to UVA early in the set with a 9-6 deficit. The Ospreys fell to the Cavaliers in the second set, 25-14. On the third set, the Cavaliers went ahead early with an 11-5 score, finished the set to win 25-13 and took the match 3-0.

“It was kind of tough competition, but we played really good against [Virginia] and we worked really hard as a team, like we worked together,” sophomore outside hitter Paige Pridgeon said. “We found out a little bit about who we are as a person when we get pressured, and it helped us come together as a team when we are playing a tougher team like that.”

Pridgeon led the team with 11 kills and 12 digs, posting her third double-double of the season.

Head coach Kevin Campbell said young players hinder the Ospreys’ opportunity to compete with large competitive schools, such as Virginia. Freshman setter Britt Claessens is an improving player but still lacks competitive experience.

“I have to be patient, as their coach,” Campbell said. “It’s like having a freshman quarterback on a Division I football program, you’re going to have to be patient.”

The Ospreys faced George Washington (4-2) on their second match of the day, losing three straight sets to the Colonials, 25-8, 25-21 and 25-17. Senior outside hitter Jessica Catelano led the team with six kills, with Pridgeon and sophomore middle blocker Marija Pantovic adding four kills each.

Claessens had 13 assists, while sophomore libero Nicole Baran tallied 13 digs.

UNF’s last match was against Liberty University (5-2) on the second and last day of the tournament.

The Ospreys and the Flames traded points until they were tied at 11 in the first set. The Flames pulled ahead, 21-15, but the Ospreys came back with a 10-3 run and won the first set 27-25 to go up 1-0 in the match. The Ospreys lost the next three sets, 25-14, 25-19 and 25-16 to lose the match 1-3. Pridgeon led with 17 kills, sophomore middle blocker Dagnija Medina added seven kills while Claessens had 28 assists. Sophomore libero Nicole Baran had 14 digs defensively.

“In the last match against Liberty on Saturday I saw a lot of great things,” Campbell said. “We had a bad match on Friday and we had a little talk as a team and the girls on their own really turned it around.”

Pridgeon was named to the All-Tournament team for her performance in the tournament, posting 32 kills, 3.2 kills per set, 24 digs and two aces.

“I got All-Tournament this past weekend. They pick one or two people from each team that performed well to make an All-Tournament team,” Pridgeon said. “I just go out there and play hard and definitely the help from my teammates made it possible. They help me a lot and push me during games.”

This is the second honor Pridgeon has received. She was also named to the 2010 Atlantic Sun Conference Preseason All-Conference volleyball team.

Although Pridgeon has had success, the team has not.

“There are a number of factors involved in not winning yet this season,” Campbell said. “The first thing is I’m scheduling tough matches. We can see a higher level of competition than the Atlantic Sun so we expect things to be difficult.”

The Ospreys need to learn how to be a team together while facing tough competition, she said.

“That’s part of my development plan,” Campbell said. “We’ve got to see higher and higher level teams, so that we play at a higher and higher level.”

Competition is not the only factor that is holding the team back.

Pridgeon said getting everyone on the same page has been difficult this season. Younger players with little-to-no experience encumber the way the team plays on the court.

“We have a couple of younger players that never played a college game before,” Pridgeon said. “I think some of the returners, you know, looking back on last season we all are hungry to win all these games and have a good season, and I just think we need to get the younger players on the same page as us to know that we want to win every game we possibly can.”

The Ospreys work together well, but when it comes to being on the court, they lose their sense of urgency sometimes, Pridgeon said. The young experience came with a price of other players on the team getting injured.

Senior outside hitter Marshay Greenlee was out with a concussion, alongside freshman outside hitter Anna Budinska, who has been out with an unknown leg injury since the first match of the season.

“We’ve had a number of injuries early in the season so we haven’t had a consistent lineup to play with,” Campbell said. “If we had a consistent starting lineup they would learn to work together and bond.”

Greenlee’s injury doesn’t seem to be to serious, and the Opsreys look to build some structure when she comes back.

“We get Marshay Greenlee back this week. She is a senior who has experience and will help our team’s confidence and leadership having her back in the mix,” Campbell said. “We have another outside hitter [Budinska] that is still injured and we aren’t quite sure when we’re going to get her back and she is very competitive. Not having her practice does change the level of our day-to-day competitive level.”

Injuries hurt the depth of the team, making it difficult to add experience, which is key to a competitive team, Campbell said.

“You know I looked down the court in the Georgia State tournament where we had four athletes out there that have not played a Division I match in their life, and it’s exciting, too,” Campbell said.

The Ospreys have a young team, who is still trying to figure themselves out, Campbell said. The Ospreys have only won two of 20 sets this season, but Campbell believes they will improve.

“I think there is definitely improvement in finding the consistency that comes from having a young team,” Campbell said.

Campbell admits they have issues to work on while on the court, which involves playing consistently through an entire tournament. She is trying to develop the team to be more confident and consistent throughout, especially with the freshman and sophomores, which comprises 75 percent of the team. The Ospreys did not get the results they were looking for in terms of wins and losses, but there is progress, Campbell said.

Their practices now include more intense pressure, simulating as close as they can to game pressure and then working with what comes out of that in a practice setting, Campbell said.

“Practice makes permanent, that is one of my assistant’s favorite sayings, and so we practice on the things we have to get better at in the match and if that’s the sense of urgency and competitiveness then that’s what we will do in practice.”

The Ospreys host the Best Western Invitational tournament Sept. 10-11 at the UNF Arena. The Ospreys will take the court at 11 a.m. Sept. 10 to face Chattanooga, and then play Troy in a 7 p.m. match, according to a press release.

“We are really excited coming into this weekend having a home tournament which is a different sort of feel and being able to see if we can’t put it all together,” Campbell said. “These young kids, they don’t have a lot of experience, but they know how to push.”

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    DavidSep 18, 2010 at 10:28 am

    Pretty sure Coach didn’t say that freshmen are hindering the program……just saying