Schreiner University women's volleyball coach Alyssa Hanley knows she has a young team. However, it still doesn't sit well that her team is 4-16 on the season and 3-11 in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference.
The Mountaineers finished 1-3 in a two-day SCAC event at Schreiner over the weekend. However, two losses came against NCAA Division III nationally-ranked powers Colorado College and Trinity University. The Mountaineers did score a 3-1 victory over St. Thomas on Saturday night.
This was also the first time the Mountaineers had played at home since Sept. 21, when Schreiner lost to Mary Hardin-Baylor, also nationally ranked at the time.
"Being on the road is tough," Hanley said. "We travel about 95% of the time. So, we're constantly playing in environments we're not used to, with not a lot of fan base. There are a lot of challenges to it. It's not ideal, but I think we handle it pretty well."
The Mountaineers had lost 10 consecutive matches between Sept. 4 and Oct. 16, but they had a little two-match winning streak with wins over Austin and Centenary. Saturday's win over St. Thomas avenged an earlier loss to the Lions in Colorado.
Hanley only had six players returning from last year's team to make things even more challenging, but first-year players are promising. At times Sunday, Schreiner showed fight and determination against No. 3-ranked Trinity, which is unbeaten in SCAC play. The Mountaineers squandered early leads and could never correct mistakes that cost them points.
Trinity hit .400, only committing four hitting errors, while Schreiner struggled to hit .130. The Mountaineers committed 22 hitting errors. Those are the kind of mistakes you can't make against a perennial power and nationally-ranked program. Trinity won the match 3-0, but the Mountaineers kept things close in the third set with a 25-19 loss.
"It was a tough match for us, and I think we went into it not quite prepared," said Hanley, adding this was the Mountaineers' fourth match of the weekend — also one delayed by two hours. "I think we gave them a different look than we had in the past because we have size. We haven't had that in the past."
Over the weekend, the Mountaineers lost their opener against Colorado College, 3-0, before beating St. Thomas. The Mountaineers lost 3-1 to Texas Lutheran on Sunday, but Hanley said the team played well. Brooke Byer and Taylor Braxton led the Mountaineers with 15 kills each in the loss.
Braxton's 15 kills was a season-high for the freshman, who now has 113 kills on the season.
Byer, a junior, has emerged as the No. 1 offensive player for the Mountaineers with 242 kills this season, while junior Kayla Lofland continues to be solid with 220 kills. Lofland has more than 800 career kills for the Mountaineers. The Trinity match snapped her five-match streak of 10 kills or more.
In Sunday's loss, the Mountaineers had limited use of setter Mia Moreno, who has 550 setting assists this season. Moreno has suffered injuries in the last few days, but she was backed up by Emily Reinhard, who finished with 26 assists — her second-best of the season. Since Schreiner runs a 5-1 offense (one setter), Reinhard hadn't played since Oct. 2, but she was solid against Trinity.
Schreiner returns to action at 6 p.m. Wednesday by playing host to Our Lady of the Lake in the final home match of the season.