Comets redeemed themselves with eight-game win streak in ASC championship
After losing the first set (25-20) to the University of Mary-Hardin Baylor, the Comets (24-4) began their climb to ASC victory.
The ASC championship rounded out an eight-game winning streak for the Comets who shut down UMHB to take the team’s sixth ASC championship and the third ASC championship for four graduating seniors.
The Comets previously lost to UMHB at the 2018 ASC championship and more recently at the ASC crossover tournament on Oct. 18 losing 3-2. Freshman outside hitter and ASC East co-Freshman of the Year Catherine Croft said the loss against UMHB showed the team what they needed to work on.
“Our games, a couple of weeks ago against UMHB which (were) really close point-to-point games, really showed us what we needed to work on. And so I feel like when we get put in those positions again, going to play those teams that are pretty equally matched in this, then we should be able to excel,” Croft said. “I just think we’ve got some unfinished business (with UMHB).”
After the first set, the Comets won three straight sets (25-23; 25-16; 25-22). The Comets will be advancing to the NCAA regional tournament on Nov. 21-23. Head coach Marci Allison, who started the volleyball program at UTD in 2004, said the team came out tight in the first set.
“I went during my first time out (and) I said, ‘You’re going to be playing volleyball for the next two hours, so do you want to keep playing?’ They said no and they turned it around,” Allison said, “So that’s really all it took and we started playing a little bit more disciplined and making better decisions. The passion followed.”
Senior setter and defensive specialist and ASC East Setter of the Year Caroline Shecterle said the change in energy and momentum helped the Comets make their comeback.
“We were down by a lot that first set and we knew we weren’t playing like how we knew how to play, but the end of that score was 25-20,” Shecterle said. “We really picked up momentum for that second set and I don’t think we ever let go of it.”
Allison said she likes the character and personality of this season’s team.
“The fun part of our job is seeing somebody like Jillian Via (who) was late as a freshman and forgot stuff and now she is MVP of our division,” Allison said. “So that’s what’s nice to see, you know, somebody that struggled through her four years and then come in and just have such an amazing senior year; that’s the fun part for us.”
Senior outside hitter and defensive specialist and ASC East co-MVP Jillian Via led the Comets on Saturday night with 13 kills, three aces and 21 digs.
Allison said the mix of seniors and freshmen added a good balance to this season’s team.
“I like this team because you have a senior class that’s the largest senior class that we’ve ever had … but on the flip side of that, you also have half of the lineup that are freshmen. And so even though you have the seniors that have good experience, sometimes they play a little bit more uptight,” Allison said. “Because the expectations on them, they take it to be a little bit more than it needs to be. And so I think sometimes having the freshmen out there to balance that helps. It’s a good balance this year.”
All four seniors, Via, Shecterle, Lauren Schilling and Alyssa Porter, have played together since their freshman year.
“We came in as freshmen and worked really hard since we got here. I think it’s been fun and this has been the perfect season for us to, you know, say goodbye,” Shecterle said.s