It’s beyond old for this Kansas University volleyball team.
The effort is there every match, the Jayhawks are usually in position to win close sets, and the attitude going into the matches is generally positive. But for whatever reason, the losses just keep piling up.
“Those kids are playing their butts off, and they want different results,” Kansas coach Ray Bechard said after Wednesday’s 3-1 loss to Oklahoma. “They’re human, too, so there’s frustration, there’s disappointment. But I guarantee you tomorrow at 3 o’clock when we get going again, we’ll get after it.”
The Sooners (20-9 overall, 7-6 Big 12) came to the Horejsi Center and left with a four-set victory, 20-25, 26-24, 23-25, 17-25, using just about every conceivable shot. When something went right for the Jayhawks and they sent the ball over the net, it came right back at them.
The Jayhawks (14-13, 2-12) have seen promising efforts end in vain ever since conference play started. Take the third set, for example. Each team had one set apiece, and the Jayhawks had a 17-14 lead. But unforced errors derailed the momentum, and Kansas lost the pivotal set by two. The Sooners then overwhelmed the Jayhawks in the final set, 25-17.
“That’s really frustrating,” Bechard said. “There’s high-level volleyball. Those are plays where our intent’s right, but our execution in that situation has got to be better.”
For the match, the Jayhawks had a half-point more than the Sooners, but they also had 26 errors to Oklahoma’s 12. Bechard said the Jayhawks can cut those down by shortening opponents’ rallies and winning points earlier.
Freshman Chelsea Albers, who had a career-high 10 kills, didn’t attribute these losses to anything except the sport itself.
“Volleyball’s not really a game of luck,” she said. “That’s just how the game goes. One day you’re scrappy, one day you’re not.”
When the Jayhawks start practice again, this loss will be forgotten. Bechard said, regardless of how everything else has gone, Wednesday’s match against Kansas State in Manhattan and next Saturday’s final home match against Baylor are enough to refocus the team.
“As long as you’ve got K-State to play and have a senior night left, I can’t imagine you having a much bigger week than that,” Bechard said.
But the Jayhawks have had to rebound from losses all season — with or without significant events coming up. Sophomore Caroline Jarmoc, who was second on the team with 14 kills, said it hasn’t been hard for the team to get back to practice and have a positive attitude after a bad game.
“You have to move on right away because the next team you play is not going to pity that you just lost,” Jarmoc said.
Albers said she and her teammates know exactly what they need to do, what errors they need to correct.
“It’s just when it comes to game-time situations, we talk about needing to be less flustered. We need to be aggressive, and we need to be together as a team.
“It’s just a matter of getting it done.”