Volleyball Loses in the First Round

    The UCSD women’s volleyball team knew it had its work cut out for it heading into the first round of the 2000 NCAA Division II Women’s Volleyball Pacific Regionals, held at Cal State Los Angeles.

    The team had been mired in a rotten slump as the season slowly squeaked to a halt, dropping its final two regular season matches and looking uninspired on the floor. The two losses dropped the team from sole possession of second place in its division to fourthbehind Cal State Los Angeles, which finished in first, and Cal State San Bernardino and Cal State Bakersfield, which tied for second.

    The Tritons were then given the sixth seed in the tournament and were slated to face their dreaded rival, Cal State Bakersfield, in their first-round game. The Bakersfield squad had taken home the first two meetings between the two teams in four sets apiece, so things were looking dark indeed for the Triton side.

    The team traveled to the tournament site, the Eagles’ Nest in Los Angeles, on Thursday night with hopes of changing the tide by breaking out of its late-season rut with a victory over Bakersfield and advancing to the next game.

    These hopes were dashed, however, by a pumped-up and impressive Bakersfield performance. Cal State Bakersfield came out strong early, connivingly winning the first set 15-7 in front of the 400-person crowd at the Nest.

    The Tritons did fire back in the second set, showing a lot of heart and grit to overcome an early deficit and taking the set 15-13. It was all downhill from this point, though, as the Tritons would not win another set this night in November. In the end, they were ousted from the tournament after exhibiting feeble third and fourth-set performances, and losing by scores of 15-3 and 15-6, respectively

    The night was not without its highlights for the blue and gold, as many of its key players once again gave solid performances. The team’s sole first-team All-CCAA selection, Laura Santerre, once again excelled on the hardwood.

    She led the Tritons with 18 kills while picking up 9 digs. Leslie Punnelli, a second team All-CCAA selection, along with teammate Christine Kueneman, had an impressive night defensively for UCSD, compiling a game-high 25 digs while adding 9 kills. Kueneman also stood out with 17 digs. Jamie Woods stepped up with 15. Jennie Wilson was another bright spot for the Tritons, with 15 kills and 7 digs.

    But these quality performances were just not enough to stop Cal State Bakersfield, which, led by Amy Wade’s 22 kills and 22 digs, continuously kept the momentum throughout the night, quickly quelling most would-be Triton rallies. Stephani McNaughton also had an outstanding night for Cal State Bakersfield, notching 18 kills and 12 digs in the win. Brooke Jolley had a hand in the victory, contributing 15 kills and 12 digs, as did Jessica Slayton with 10 kills and 17 digs.

    The Tritons, despite the loss, should have few regrets about their first Division II season, as they put together an impressive inaugural record of 15-7 in conference play and 21-20 overall.

    Laura Santerre led the team with 346 kills for the season.

    Jennie Wilson had more notches in the block category than any other Triton, compiling 104 over the duration of the season, and Leslie Punnelli was the team’s dig maestro, with a whopping 397 on the season.

    These performances, as well as the team’s overall season-long effort, should be applauded by all, as the team made the jump to Division II with typical aplomb, and once there, established the UCSD women’s volleyball team as a powerhouse competitor and a force to be reckoned with in the coming years.

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