Volleyball gets familiar result

    There was no charm the third time around for the UCSD women’s volleyball team when it fell short again to Cal State San Bernardino — this time in the semifinal match of the western regional to end its season with a 26-5 record. BYU Hawaii defeated CSUSB in the final.

    Guardian file photo

    UCSD entered the tournament as the fourth seed after finishing second in the California Collegiate Athletic Association to CSUSB, the No. 1 seed. The Tritons opened play in the six-team tournament Nov. 21 against fifth-seeded Chaminade University of Hawaii.

    Despite UCSD head coach Duncan McFarland’s initial concerns about overlooking the Silverswords, UCSD came out quickly and dominated in three games (30-19, 30-23, 30-17).

    “”I thought we were really focused,”” he said. “”Before that match, I thought we might have some trouble looking beyond Chaminade.””

    The Wilson sisters, Jennie and Bonnie, led the Tritons, combining for 22 kills and 17 digs. Setter Teresa Ohta controlled the offense with 29 kills and contributed on defense with 15 digs. Despite the closeness in seeding, UCSD felt no significant pressure from Chaminade in its dominating victory.

    “”We probably could have beaten them worse,”” Jennie Wilson said.

    The task the following night proved much more difficult; the Tritons drew the host Coyotes of CSUSB. In their two earlier contests this season, the Coyotes soundly defeated the Tritons, but after UCSD’s upset victory in last year’s regional final, CSUSB was determined not to let history repeat itself.

    Game one proved to be no contest. The Coyotes rode the energy of their large home crowd to an easy 30-20 win. CSUSB and their star player, Kim Morohunfola, set the tone for the rest of the evening by establishing the middle and keeping the Tritons off balance.

    “”The way it turned out was really similar [to this year’s conference matches] when they also started out faster than we did,”” McFarland said.

    UCSD showed its resiliency in game two, battling back for a 30-27 win. On offense, the Tritons’ usually balanced attack was heavily dependent on Bonnie Wilson, who put down 21 kills in the match — more than a third of UCSD’s total.

    On the other side of the net, the Coyotes were able to use variety to better effect, with four players in double figures for kills to subdue the Tritons 30-24 and 30-23 in the final two games.

    Morohunfola led the way with a career night in which she posted 18 kills on only one attack error for a staggering .708 attacking percentage. As the Tritons have learned, when Morohunfola gets going, she’s tough to deal with.

    “”She’s the key to that team,”” Jennie Wilson said. “”She’s the emotional leader and an incredible player. She has such an amazing reach and range that it’s hard to stop her.””

    McFarland also praised the Coyotes for their execution.

    “”They were awesome. Their setter played great and in particular to her middles, who were virtually unstoppable,”” he said. “”We really didn’t have a good serving match and gave them too many opportunities to get their middle attack going.””

    Though the Tritons have had an excellent season, disappointment reigned following the match.

    “”Starting this season, we felt like almost the only goal we could set for ourselves was to get back to the final four,”” McFarland said. “”Just to get [to the regional] was really a great achievement, but we had our sights set so high that it really didn’t feel so good.””

    Despite the disappointment, the Tritons are already entertaining thoughts of next season and looking to build on this year’s success.

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