BELOIT - Halloween is still a few weeks away, but that didn't stop the Beloit Memorial girls volleyball team to show up Tuesday night at Barkin Arena masquerading as the cast from the Walking Dead.
Players an d coaches alike readily acknowledged the team's lack of energy in its four-game loss to visiting Janesville Parker in the final home match of the season.
Beloit Memorial head coach Kim Gamble said this isn't the first time the team has deal with that issue.
"It's been a constant struggle for us this season to keep our energy up," Gamble said. "Over the weekend in our invitational, we lost a couple of games and a lot of that was because we didn't have energy and we had a lack of communication. The next day we really focused on those two things and it went much better, but then it falls apart again. We are trying to find ways to work on it, but it's a struggle.
"We have the skills and ability to win matches like this. I truly believe we do. But we have to get that figured out if we are going to be successful."
Sophomore Rebekkah De Kok said the team's morale could use a boost. Beloit finished the season with an overall record of 6-17, including a 1-8 mark in Big Eight play.
"I feel like a lot of people put us down as a bad team," De Kok said. "They say we are going to lose every game, and when you constantly hear that, you start to believe it. Tonight, I felt like we were trying, but it was really hard to start talking and getting excited when things weren't going well."
Parker cruised to a 25-14 win in the first game and held off a late charge to win game two 25-21. Things got a little better for the Knights in game three, when they avoided getting into an early deficit and held the lead for nearly the entire game in a 25-22 win.
"After game two, coach Gamble pulled us in and really emphasized getting fired up and ready to play," De Kok said. "We got a couple points early on that helped us get going and we started the game off right. So, it was working for us for a while."
The collective Debbie Downer effect showed up again in game four as Parker controlled the action until a late serving run by Meghan Drucker brought the Knights to within a respectable margin in a 25-17 loss to close out the match.
The Knights don't have much time to figure things out. They will play in the Big Eight Tournament Saturday before opening regional play next week on the road at a location to be determined Wednesday night.
"During practice, we'll definitely work more on communication, because that was a big problem for us tonight," De Kok said. "We know we have to be excited and fired up in order to win. And we also have to work on serving, because we had a lot of errors there tonight. There were some good things that happened, we just have to be more consistent with it."
The Vikings (19-15 overall, 5-4 in conference) were led by Julianna Getka's 12 kills, while Shay Riley had 26 assists. Beloit was led by De Kok's 12 kills. Brynn Swanson added 10 kills, while Drucker finished with 2 assists, eight aces and two blocks.