Seton Hall’s volleyball team is heading into the heart of Big East play, as every game becomes more important with the Pirates’ eyes set on another Big East tournament appearance. However, if the team wants to experience a second consecutive postseason, it needs to keep up with other conference teams statistically.
The Pirates are near the bottom of the Big East in hitting percentage, assists, blocks and digs, and are last in kills and service aces in the conference. Seton Hall currently stands at 3-2 in conference play, with two of its tougher matches behind it. However, the team’s play out of conference will need to improve upon now that it is in the midst of its Big East schedule.
What can be good for the Pirates is that many of the statistics they have struggled with are connected. By being low in the digs column, they are going to have a tougher chance at getting assists, and therefore, fewer kills. By raising their blocking percentages, they will be given even more help and put more points on the board.
It is going to have to start with team offense for the Pirates. Each player has a role and sometimes that varies. By communicating and spreading the ball around the court, they will get closer to turning their offense around.
Abby Thelen has 260 kills, which is 89 more than any other Pirate, illustrate her value, but also a lopsidedness which cannot be maintained if the Pirates want to experience success at the end of the season. The Pirates currently have three players other than Thelen with over 100 kills: Dominique Mason, Sharay Barnes and Caitlin Koska. These players will have to step up and help find a balance to alleviate Thelen’s workload.
The struggles in the stat columns have not come directly from conference play, however. In their five conference games, the Pirates have totaled nine fewer kills, ten more digs and one more assist than their opponents. This is also including games against Creighton and Marquette, two of the top teams in the Big East.
Against No. 12 Creighton on Sept. 29, the offense was working as a team and only had four fewer kills and one fewer assist, despite losing in straight sets. The Pirates played a complete competitive game but fell due to mistakes and a talented Bluejay team.
Seton Hall struggled against Marquette on Sept. 22, but in their wins in straight sets against DePaul on Sept. 23 and Providence on Sept. 30, they had 15 more kills and 16 more assists. In those wins, the team worked in unison, which has been a sign of play lately.
What has hurt the Pirates in matches where they are moving the ball is their amount of errors. Seton Hall has had 86 total errors through four conference games and 376 for the season, 36 more than their opponents have committed. It may not have cost them games yet, but if they do not change their habits, it soon will.
In the end, the Pirates need to find their groove and match it with consistency. Seton Hall began the year impressively with a 6-3 record through its first three tournaments, but its 2-6 record after that has done no favors.
Nonetheless, when it comes to making the Big East Tournament, the conference games are all that matter. Seton Hall will look to continue some of the play it displayed this past weekend as they look to improve numbers across the board and once again take the conference by storm come tournament time.
Keith Egan can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @Keith_Egan10.