Chapman’s volleyball team is not off to the start it envisioned.
Losing six-of-seven to start the season, including three-of-four this weekend at the Pasada Royal Tournament, Chapman now faces an uphill battle to avoid finishing below .500. Chapman has not had a losing season since 2002.
“We’re still trying to figure out who works best together and get more repetition,” said head coach Mary Cahill. “Volleyball is a game of consistency, and the most consistent team is going to win.”
Chapman was hit hard by graduation and injury this offseason. The graduation of setter Corrine Ostrovsky, the school record holder in assists and matches played, libero Carleigh Mueller, the team leader in digs in 2012 and 2013 and multiple injuries to two-time All-American middle back Val Geiger, who has been recovering from offseason knee and foot surgeries, has left Chapman shorthanded.
The Panthers opened the tournament with a commanding 3-0 victory over George Fox (1-7) on Friday.
Junior outside hitter Michele Hammer led the way with a team high 16 kills. Senior setter Morgan Slater registered a team high 35 assists, and senior libero Andi Frisina set the pace with 16 digs.
“After last week the team was ready to get out and play, and we wanted to start strong,” Cahill said. “We played a lot better together and are starting to get a feel for the team.”
Unfortunately for the Panthers, the win was one of the only positive aspect of the tournament as they lost the final three games.
Against Mary Hardin-Baylor later that day, Chapman was plagued by inconsistent play and unforced errors, as they fell 1-3.
Hammer led the way again adding 18 kills, as well as adding 13 digs. Sophomore outside hitter Halle Erdahl was second on the team with nine kills, while adding 11 digs.
Hoping for better results on Saturday, the Panthers faced off against Augustana but once again committed too many errors, losing 3-0.
The team finished the tournament in a similar fashion as they fell to Dallas 3-00-3 later that day.
With the season starting Sept. 10 against Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) rival Caltech, the Panthers are still deciding on their opening lineup.
Geiger played in her first game on Friday, but was used in a limited manner. Cahill said it was part of the plan to get her ready for conference play.
Chapman’s SCIAC schedule will not be an easy one. Chapman will play California Lutheran, the fourth ranked team in the country, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, the 15th ranked team and Pomona-Pitzer, who received 26 votes to be in the top-25, each twice.
“For us this year it really comes down to conference play and hopefully we learned our lessons in the preseason,” Cahill said.