Women's volleyball starts off strong

    After reaching the playoffs in its first Division II season, the UCSD women’s volleyball team begins its second year with experience and a better understanding of its new level of competition.

    Guardian File Photo

    The Tritons are ranked No. 4 in the California Collegiate Athletic Association Women’s Volleyball Preseason Coaches Poll behind CSU Los Angeles, which won the CCAA championship last year with a 30-0 record last year; CSU San Bernardino, which ousted the undefeated Golden Eagles from the playoffs and went on to lose to Hawaii Pacific University in the championship game; and CSU Bakersfield, which won 10 straight CCAA titles before being upstaged last year by Cal State L.A.

    Head coach Duncan McFarland is pleased with the rankings and respect shown to UCSD.

    “”I thought that

    was pretty accurate,”” he said. “”I was surprised to see what the other schools thought. I thought it was neat that they had that much respect for a new team in the conference.””

    McFarland believes that his incoming freshmen will help the team live up to its rankings.

    “”We did have a good recruiting year and attracted some very good freshmen,”” he said. “”[For example] Teresa Ohta — we knew she’d be a very good setter. Although she’s smaller than our returning setter, she runs a faster-paced offense.””

    Ohta had been offered several full scholarships but turned them down to come to UCSD.

    McFarland said freshmen Katie Hogan and Stacy Dunsmore are also key players for the Tritons this year.

    The Tritons, off to a 7-2 record this year, are ranked 22nd in the nation in the latest American Volleyball Coaches Association Division II poll.

    “”It’s a good start so far and we’ve played a couple strong teams,”” McFarland said. “”Being a young team, I feel we still have a lot of improving to do. We’re not passing very well. We also still need to get used to playing 30 minutes instead of 15 minutes and knowing how the flow of the game goes and when to use timeouts.””

    However, McFarland feels that the team’s tough schedule so far has been advantageous and helped the athletes prepare for tougher opponents.

    “”We’ll definitely be tested,”” he said. “”But one of our greatest strengths is our depth.””

    UCSD started its season by hosting the UC San Diego Invitational Aug. 24 and Aug. 25. Participating teams in the tournament included CSU San Bernardino, Regis University, Metro State University, Western Oregon University, CSU Los Angeles, Lock Haven and CSU Dominguez Hills.

    UCSD began the tournament strongly, beating Western Oregon and Lock Haven in straight sets. But after beating Metro State the next day, three sets to one, the Tritons were defeated by Regis University in straight sets and ended up placing third in the tournament.

    CSU San Bernardino won the tournament with a 4-0 record. That team’s Amy Pope was named tournament MVP.

    The Tritons were led by senior Laura Santerre, who had 49 kills, and sophomore Diana Camarillo, who racked up 36 kills. Junior Jennie Wilson and Santerre were among the tournament’s best in hitting percentage, third and fourth, respectively. Ohta averaged 13.5 assists per game. Hogan also averaged the most blocks per game, with a 1.43 average.

    Santerre, Camarillo and senior Kathleen Hentz were named to the all-tournament team. Santerre also earned honorable mention for CCAA Women Volleyball Player of the Week.

    Three days later, UCSD traveled to El Cajon and beat Christian Heritage College in straight sets 30-28, 30-20, 30-26. The Tritons boosted their record to 4-1.

    It was Christian Heritage’s first loss of the year. Santerre again led the Tritons with nine kills while sophomore Ashley Peterson and Hentz added six kills each for UCSD.

    McFarland approved of his team’s performance in the invitational.

    “”I was very happy; it was a strong tournament,”” he said. “”[Regis University and Metro State University] are perennial powerhouses in Division II. Metro had a couple of very good Brazilian players.””

    UCSD hosted Point Loma Nazarene University on Aug. 29 and fell to the Crusaders in straight sets 30-26, 30-22, 30-27. Point Loma, ranked No. 2 in the NAIA preseason poll, was led by sophomore Renata Ferrer and junior Jamie Robinson with 14 kills each. The Tritons were led by Santerre, who finished with 11 kills and 10 digs, while outside hitter Dunsmore collected six kills and five digs.

    The Tritons bounced back Sept. 5 to beat Alliant International University in three sets 30-17, 30-18, 30-20. The loss dropped AIU to 2-5 and boosted UCSD to 5-2.

    The Tritons traveled north Sept. 7 to take on Sonoma State University in the year’s first league match. Playing on the Cossacks’ brand-new floor and in front of 452 fans, the Tritons won a grueling victory over Sonoma State. The two-hour marathon match went to four sets, and while Sonoma State led as late as 28-27 in the fourth match, the Tritons came back to nab the win 30-16, 30-23, 20-30, 33-31.

    The Cossacks, who fell to 9-2 with the loss, were kept in the game by senior Kristen Graham, who ended with 15 kills and six blocks, and sophomore Christine Shiba, who posted 14 kills and 17 digs. Dunsmore led the Tritons with 18 kills while Peterson and Santerre had double-doubles.

    The next day, the Tritons stopped in San Francisco and easily disposed of San Francisco State University 30-18, 30-16, 30-19. The Gators were held to a .093 hitting percentage and were led by Courtney Heil, who had a game-high 12 kills. Peterson had a team-high 10 kills for the Tritons, and Ohta dished out 24 assists.

    The Tritons are now 7-1 overall and 2-0 in league. The hapless Gators lost their 11th straight game and still are seeking their first victory of the season.

    The Tritons were scheduled to open at home against Bakersfield on Sept. 14, but due to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, that game and Saturday’s game against CSU Stanislaus have been postponed.

    “”We are very much in support of the decision of Earl Edwards,”” McFarland said. “”It’s way too soon to resume. It was such a tough week for everyone. [The team] had talked and decided to keep practicing, but to play in the same week isn’t right.””

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