The American River College women’s volleyball team opened its two-game home stand with a victory against Santa Rosa Junior College Wednesday. The win made it five straight for the Beavers, who remain undefeated in conference play.
Having been on the road for 11 consecutive matches, the players felt anxious in front of their home crowd.
“It was the first home game (of conference play) so we were really excited and everyone was kind of antsy,” said sophomore outside hitter Lauren Kirschke.
The Beavers’ angst and tentative play allowed Santa Rosa to hang around early in the match. The first set featured 14 ties and six lead changes.
After Santa Rosa took a 23-21 lead, Beaver head coach Ashlie Hain called a timeout to address her team with a frank and poignant challenge.
In recent practices Hain has tried to instill a more resilient quality into her players, who have struggled to regroup after falling behind in opening sets.
“In other situations when we’re down 2 or 3 points, we always lose. The last five games we played we dropped the first set,” said Hain. “So we’ve played a bunch of tough drills in practice that force (us) to comeback. (Tuesday) we kind of had a breakthrough. We started coming back in a drill.”
Sophomore middle hitter Nicole Hareland had a big kill coming out of the timeout that seemed to shift the momentum in ARC’s favor. Santa Rosa then went scoreless for the remainder of the set.
“In the timeout she (told us) ‘show me you’ve learned something’,” said Hareland. “I went back there, served, and I showed her.”
After winning the second set by 13 points and jumping out to a 10-5 lead in the third, the Beavers allowed their opponent to gain some ground.
Santa Rosa quickly converted three consecutive rallies, cutting the lead to two.
Kirschke ended the run with two consecutive kills and Santa Rosa never recovered.
With the home crowd angst and a couple of teachable moments behind them, the Beavers cruised to a win with relative ease, taking the third set by 10 points.
The Beavers will be at home for five of their next six matches and are looking forward to the comfort of playing before a supportive crowd.
“I love home games,” said Kirschke following the match. “Everyone’s on our side, and the announcer, when you get kills, is all about you. It’s cool.”
Players do not seem concerned with the nervous feelings that plagued them early in this match.
“I think we got our home jitters out, so I think we’ll be good from here on out,” said Hareland.
The team’s next game is scheduled to take place at home Friday, Oct. 11 at 6:30 p.m. against Modesto Junior College.