When Wake Forest sends over an ace, it cheers.
When the team slams down a kill, the Cougars erupt, just as any other volleyball team would.
Wake Forest hosted Sanderson Tuesday night. While the visitors completed the three-set sweep, the Cougars refused to hang their heads.
I thought we did some good things. We played hard; we competed.
Wake Forest volleyball coach Scott Love
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It didn’t matter if they went down 8-0 in the final set or surrendered 12 unanswered points after taking a bulky and much-needed lead.
After every point, the Cougars huddled, smiled and shook it off and tried again.
Wake Forest hasn’t won a game in nine tries this season. But to coach Scott Love, a winless record is not a true indication of his Cougars.
“We gotta work to fight against the mentality of being down,” he said following Sanderson’s win on Tuesday. “We were down four kids, and it was one of those things that, ‘This is it. This is who we are. We just have to fight through that.’ ”
Wake Forest (0-9, 0-2 Cap 8) could have folded a number of times against a one-loss Sanderson club. Though the Spartans came out swinging, Wake Forest stayed afloat, until the visitors used back-to-back aces from freshman Drew James to create some separation in Set 1.
The Cougars didn’t have a lead until the second set, a five-point advantage squandered by Sanderson’s dozen unanswered points.
“There in that second set, I think they started to believe a little bit,” Love said, “but we’re just not consistent enough doing it all the time. I thought we had spots where we played really well. But then, we’d have a missed serve, we’d have a ball-handling error, we’d have something that just (would make us) bite ourselves.”
A pesky recurring error that affected the Cougars was committing doubles on the second contact.
They have two freshman setters, and one was out with a concussion. Against Sanderson, a senior who hadn’t set up all year had to step up.
The offensive coordinator isn’t the only area where Wake Forest is young.
Only five seniors comprise a 15-player roster.
“Having a younger team, with kids that are younger playing a lot,” Love said, “they’re just going to have to be more consistent.”
Wake Forest has won just seven sets this season, giving up 27. The Cougars played Rolesville to five sets twice and Knightdale to that number once.
Against Sanderson, Hannah Harris led with four kills and Georgianna Darch set up a team-high five assists. Senior captain Molly Northcutt had a team-high seven digs.
Throughout the match, the Cougars seemed to compete for every point, no matter the errors and no matter the score.
“It says we’re going in the right direction,” Love said. “It says they like playing for each other. They work hard. At this point in the season, it’s easy to get down on yourselves and kind of go through the motions. I don’t feel like they did that. I felt like they fought and worked. Even in that third set, we’re down 2-0. They start the third set seven to nothing and we come back and make it a two- or three-point game.
“It would have been really easy to pack it in at that point, but I was really proud of them for working through that.”
Jessika Morgan: 919-829-4538, @JessikaMorgan