This article was originally published in the Empire State Tribune.
Down two sets and facing match point, The King's College volleyball team scrapped together a seven-point comeback run, before dropping the third set 23-25 against Penn State Hazleton.
The Lions lost the first two sets 25-27 and 5-25, dropping their first match of the season.
"We got to a point where we just weren't playing well in the second set," said Samantha Klozik, a freshmen outside hitter. "Volleyball is a mental game and sometimes it just comes down to who wants it more. You can see how much we wanted it in that comeback."
Klozik led the team with 12 kills and finished second on the team with 11 digs, also notching an ace. She is just one of six freshmen on the squad, including four of the six starters.
One of only three returners, sophomore middle hitter Hope Feller, said she was excited by the play of the freshmen during the comeback, especially after the mistake filled second set.
"It was unbelievable to watch the comeback, compared to the second set. We fought for it," Feller said. "The freshmen have been phenomenal. They all bring so much to the team, even if their numbers don't necessarily reflect it."
Feller said the team needs to start a lot faster in their next match, that the Lions could have snatched the first set if they had a better start. During the first set, each team traded points back and forth until the end. The Lions grabbed the lead twice, but not until late in the set.
Head coach Alexandra Salavitch echoed parts of Feller's assessment. She said she was proud of the scrappiness in the last set, but saw a lot of room for improvement.
"The girls need to work on their mental toughness. I saw a lot of mistakes that stemmed from mental immaturity. Mental mistakes can be contagious and we have to avoid that," Salavitch said. "These girls have the skill. The talent is there and I saw spunkiness in that run at the end. That run shows me what they can do."
This is Salavitch's third year coaching the volleyball team. She said this team feels strong compared to years past, that they have a lot of potential. Her plan for practice is to make the team run, work hard, and to reiterate the idea of scrappiness.
Aside from scrappiness, chemistry was a theme the team focused on. Even though two thirds of the team are new, Salavitch and the players feel that they have strong chemistry.
"We jelled almost instantly," Klozik said. "When I'm with the girls, I don't feel like a freshman. I feel like I've been playing with them for a long time and I'm happy to be part of a team like that."
The volleyball team will look to rebound at William Paterson University on Tuesday at 7 p.m.