The No. 9 West Texas A&M Lady Buffs welcomed five other teams to the WT Fieldhouse on Aug. 31 and Sept. 1 for the annual Lady Buff Classic in Canyon. The Classic was the showcase event for the Lady Buffs, but didn’t quite start off the season the way the Lady Buffs would have liked.
Adams State Grizzlies picked apart the Lady Buffs in four sets to start WT off on a 0-1 record. It’s the first time since 1994 WT volleyball failed to win a season-opening match and the first time to ever drop a home opener.
“Adams, barring anything odd, will make the national tournament…that’s not a bad thing,” Head Coach Jason Skoch said. “I’m upset because I would say that how we lost was bad. That’s a very, very good team.”
The loss was particularly hard for the team’s five seniors. It marked only the second loss in “The Box” for this group of seniors, and only the 13th loss in the historic venue.
“It’s probably the most gut-wrenching feeling ever,” Lauren Beville, Sr. libero player, said. “Losing in The Box is such a no-no. Just letting all these people down, letting our team down, the alumni down. I mean it’s just the worst feeling that I think you could have.”
The Lady Buffs regrouped after losing to the Grizzlies and didn’t drop a set to North Alabama, UT-Permian Basin or Western State, finishing 3-1 after the first weekend of the regular season.
“We were still able to fight through a lot of points,” Beville said. “We showed a little character coming back and fighting hard to come back and win.”
With five seniors on the squad the Lady Buffs have plenty of leadership, but they also have ten newcomers, including five freshmen, to help carry the flame into the future.
One new face on the squad is freshman outside hitter Lexi Davis who is a local product from Dumas High School. Davis recorded three kills against Adams State and one kill versus Western State.
“The pace is definitely faster, the girls are bigger and it takes more IQ to put the ball away than it would in high school,” Davis said.
With so many new players now in a Lady Buff uniform, team cohesion is a big concern early in the season.
“I think that’s what a big problem was against Adams, we were trying to play as six different people instead of trying to play as a team,” Beville said. “We just got to figure that out. It takes all 21 of us to play as a team and to do well.”
The Lady Buffs head to Denver, Colorado on September 7-8 for the Colorado Premier. The Lady Buffs will take on No. 5 Central Missouri and No. 13 Metro State on Friday, Sept. 7.