Volleyball wins sixth straight match

    The UCSD women’s volleyball team capped its regular reason with resounding wins over Chico State and UC Davis this weekend to solidify its second-place standing in the California Collegiate Athletic Association.

    Lyon Liew
    Guardian

    The 18th-ranked Tritons, who finished the year 17-4 in the CCAA and 22-6 overall, made their final push heading into the National Collegiate Athletic Association Pacific Regional tournament by defeating Chico State 3-1 at RIMAC Arena last Saturday in their season finale. The victory was the sixth straight for UCSD and the 10th out of its past 12 games.

    Before the game, the team honored seniors Jamie Woods, Kathleen Hentz and Laura Santerre, who played the final regular season game of their careers.

    The Tritons dominated early, winning the first two games 30-18 and 30-11 before UCSD head coach Duncan McFarland, who saw that the game was under control, substituted the senior starters with younger players. After falling behind early, the Wildcats took advantage of UCSD’s inexperience on the court and came back to take the lead in the game. Chico managed to hold off a late Triton rally and eventually earned a 30-28 win in the third game.

    Lyon Liew
    Guardian

    McFarland put the seniors back in during the fourth game, but changes were not immediate. The Tritons and Wildcats battled during what began as a close game, with the teams trading points back and forth. Eventually the seniors’ experience allowed the Tritons to pull ahead and finish with a 30-20 game win and an overall match win to secure UCSD second place in the conference.

    “”This is such a game of momentum,”” McFarland said. “”Once it slips away, it’s gone for good. The seniors went back and got the momentum back for us.””

    Losing a game is unusual for the Tritons, who had won four of their last five matches 3-0, and looked like they would add another shutout against Chico State before the Wildcats rallied. Though it was only one game, Woods said that they need to play more relentlessly and finish teams off instead of losing focus.

    “”We know that a ridiculous loss like that could end up hurting us,”” Woods said. “”We didn’t panic. We knew we were a better team. There was never an urgency, but we needed to take care of business.””

    Santerre led the Tritons with a game-high 16 kills, while Hentz added 11 kills and 10 digs. Jessica Bartter and Teresa Ohta had 28 and 27 assists, respectively, for UCSD.

    Chelsea Tyrrell led Chico State with 11 kills in the losing effort, which dropped the Wildcats to 12-10 in the CCAA and 16-13 overall.

    The night before, the Tritons avenged their earlier regular-season loss to UC Davis, dispatching the Aggies 3-0 behind Stacy Dunsmore’s 17 kills and Ohta’s 43 assists en route to a 30-18, 30-26, 30-23 victory at RIMAC Arena. Woods had a game-high 12 digs, while Hentz tallied 13 kills and 5 digs.

    UC Davis fell to 10-11 in the CCAA and 14-13 overall.

    It was a roller coaster season for the Tritons, who started the season 6-0 in CCAA play but then lost four of nine conference games. It was the Tritons’ heartbreaking 3-2 loss against UC Davis that inspired the team to make a change.

    “”We felt like it wasn’t a match we should have lost,”” McFarland said. “”It was a defining moment for us. The players [then] just decided to be the best team they could be.””

    It worked. UCSD completed the year with a six-game undefeated homestand, including a thrilling 3-2 win over fifth-ranked Cal State San Bernardino that, according to Woods, gave the team confidence that it could defeat anyone.

    That confidence, in part, comes from senior leadership. Woods, Hentz and Santerre — all of whom are four-year players — were members of the 1998 Division III National Runner-Up team, as well as last year’s squad, which qualified for the NCAA tournament in its first season in Division II.

    “”They’ve meant a lot,”” McFarland said. “”We’re going to lose a lot of experience and certainly three very good players.””

    The three seniors will try to add yet another accolade to their already impressive resumes when they continue their quest for their first Division II national championship with regional tournament action, to be held Nov. 15-17 at Cal State San Bernardino. UCSD drew a first-round bye as the second seed and will play the winner of the Western Washington University-Cal State Los Angeles game.

    “”There won’t be another team there that … we can’t beat,”” McFarland said. “”We’re going into them with a lot of confidence.””

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