Win one. Lose one.
Lose one. Win one.
Wash, rinse, repeat.
That’s been the story of the first six matches of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference schedule for the Fort Lewis College volleyball team. The Skyhawks are 7-7 and 3-3 in league heading into a 7 p.m. tilt today with Black Hills State, a newcomer to the RMAC.
With the next four games at home and with the RMAC East Division powerhouses starting to stack up on the schedule, the Skyhawks would like to start racking up both wins and momentum now.
“I think we’re definitely hungry for a winning streak. ... I know that with these home games coming up, we’re anxious to get some wins under our belt in front of our home fans on our home court,” libero Jenna Kinzer said at Thursday’s practice.
FLC currently sits two games behind Adams State and Colorado Mesa for the RMAC West lead with one more match with both still on the schedule.
Earlier losses to both, including a five-set setback against Colorado Mesa, were matches that were indicative of how the Skyhawks feel – that they’re on the cusp of busting out.
“We’re always right there, and it’s always a great battle. One thing we’re determined to do this weekend is finish,” outside hitter Ashley Wells said. “Stay disciplined and find that urgency to win and to be smart.”
Taking care of business at Whalen Gymnasium would be a start. FLC has split its four meetings in friendly confines to date, and after the next four matches, only two of the Skyhawks’ last nine contests will take place in Durango.
“It’ll give us, for sure, a big break to be home with our friends and family. ... I think it’s going to be a reliever, a good break,” Wells said.
Perhaps even bigger than a friendly crowd is the added day of practice playing at home provides. Instead of traveling on Thursday, the Skyhawks were running through drills. For a young team such as FLC, every little bit helps.
“It is great to have four days of practice because then the week after we leave on that Wednesday to go up to Denver,” FLC head coach Shelly Aaland said. “So it is great to have four days. We’re in here as long as we can every day.
“I give a lot of credit to the team because they are in here working hard and getting the most out of the practices.”
The biggest area Aaland said she hopes to improve on is serving, where FLC has 71 aces but also 114 errors in 1,010 attempts. The head coach said it’s a matter of confidence.
Still, the improvements are noticeable for a side that won just five times last season, including twice in conference play. And Aaland said despite the lack of a winning streak, there’s momentum already in place.
“With the 1-1 splits, I think we are building each weekend, so we might not get the results, but I’m looking at more than that,” Aaland said. “Because as we get into the East, it’s going to be harder and harder to find the wins as we get into that division of play.
“What we are focusing on is that growth. With that younger team, we are improving on a daily basis and a weekly basis.”
There’s also a light at the end of the tunnel that wasn’t present in the darkness of 2011.
“We have that extra heart because we do not want a repeat of last year, so we do see that light at the end of the tunnel,” Kinzer said.