Volleyball closes regular season

The UCSD women’s volleyball team closed out the regular season in decisive fashion by defeating Sonoma State University three games to one and San Francisco State three games to none over the weekend.

Tibora Girczyc-Blum

The Tritons finished their California Collegiate Athletic Association schedule in second place with a 19-3 conference record and await the announcement of playoff pairings for the Western regional tournament, which is set to begin Nov. 21.

After being played tough by the Seawolves of SSU in their Oct. 12 matchup, the Tritons came out playing hard and dominated the first game 30-21 on Nov. 15.

The UCSD defense was dominant as it racked up 14.5 total team blocks on a night that Brianna Koche, Katie Hogan, Jessica Bartter and Bonnie Wilson combined for 22 block assists. Despite the defense, the Tritons struggled in game two as they committed 10 attack errors to only 13 kills and fell 27-30.

UCSD head coach Duncan McFarland blamed a sense of overconfidence for the lapse.

“”In the second game, I think we got to thinking that it might be kind of easy to beat this team,”” he said.

UCSD improved its passing in game three and the results were immediate. Setter Teresa Ohta continued to pour on the assists on her way to 48 on the evening and also picked up a match-high 19 digs.

The Tritons’ 30-21 victory in game three was also due in part to the strong effort off the bench from outside hitter Ashley Peterson, who picked up nine kills while attacking .533 and gave UCSD a boost.

“”What I saw was the lack of energy,”” Peterson said. “”I knew that we had to turn up the energy if we wanted to win.””

The Tritons kept the energy flowing in game four and rolled over SSU 30-17 to take the match. Bonnie Wilson ended the match with 19 kills, and Stacy Dunsmore put down 14 to lead UCSD. Christine Shiba had 18 kills and Tina Mesquita had 53 assists for the Seawolves in the losing effort.

With the standings already decided and a playoff berth virtually guaranteed, the Tritons celebrated senior night the following evening against CCAA cellar-dweller San Francisco State. Seniors Jennie Wilson and Jessica Bartter made it a night to remember. Each was instrumental in the Tritons’ 30-21, 30-18, 30-21 dismantling of the SFSU Gators.

Bartter spread the ball around and contributed 43 assists, and Wilson took advantage of her opportunities to tally 13 kills and pick up 12 digs.

The Triton seniors recognized the emotion and nostalgia of playing for the last time at home, but also were consoled in knowing that their season isn’t quite done.

“”I think when everyone stood up for the last game point, it really hit me,”” Bartter said. “”It’s a little bit of mixed feelings because I know our season’s not over yet. We’re definitely going to playoffs and hopefully we’ll be playing as long as possible.””

When the regional seeding is announced, UCSD expects to be traveling north to Western Washington University to play the matches that they’ve been looking toward all season.

The Tritons will spend their week in practice working with the all-white Spalding volleyballs, which will be used in the tournament. While such a detail might seem minor, Jennie Wilson insists that there is not much other preparation that can be done.

“”Right now, you don’t really get better,”” she said. “”You either perform when you’re asked to, or you don’t.””

UCSD will be asked to perform at the highest level when regional play begins Nov. 21 because it seeks to knock off potential foes Cal State San Bernardino, Western Washington and others in search of its second-consecutive Western Region championship.