Top ranked womenís volleyball falls to rival

    The Tritons are likely to lose their No. 1 ranking this week after a depleted UCSD womenís volleyball team split two matches on the road, beating Cal Poly Pomona and losing to No. 3 Cal State San Bernardino in five games.

    Heading into the biggest road trip on the California Collegiate Athletic Association schedule, the Tritons received some bad news. Outside hitter Bonnie Wilson ó the UCSDís leader in kills and the CCAA Player of the Week for Sept. 15-21 ó was sidelined for 3-6 weeks with a stress fracture in her left foot. Additionally, opposite Ashley Peterson went down with an ankle sprain that will hold her out of action for at least two weeks.

    Heading into Cal Poly Pomona without two of its six-footers, UCSD struggled slightly at the net. The Tritons were out-blocked 11-8 by the Broncos and UCSD surrendered a game to the heavy underdogs, but got the victory 3-1 (30-22, 23-20, 30-17, 30-26).

    Lindsay Crandell led the Tritons offensively with 18 kills, while Stacy Dunsmore contributed 13 and Katie Hogan added 12 on just 19 attempts. Senior opposite Lauren Mills, whose playing time is likely to increase in Petersonís absence, stepped up and picked up a match-high 13 digs. Middle blocker Kendra Canape and setter Teresa Ohta also had strong matches for the Tritons, accumulating 6 blocks and 50 assists, respectively.

    UCSD attacked at a solid .355 clip as a team and picked up 51 digs compared to Cal Poly Pomonaís 34.

    The Sept. 27 match-up between the Tritons and the Coyotes of Cal State San Bernardino was hailed by both schools as the “”Clash of the Titans,”” and it certainly lived up to its billing. Playing in front of an above-average crowd in Coussoulis Arena where the Coyotes are 68-7 since the start of the 1998 season, the home side came out strong in game one, taking the Tritons 30-28. Despite recording just seven kills in game one, UCSD fought back to even the match at one apiece with a 30-24 victory in game two. Not to be denied, CSUSB took another close game 30-27 before being annihilated 30-16 by the Tritons in game four.

    Though momentum should have been squarely on the UCSD bench, mistakes plagued the Tritons in game five with UCSD committing seven hitting errors in the final game. The Coyotesí 15-12 win secured the 3-2 victory in the match.

    The miscues down the stretch perplexed and frustrated many of the Triton players.

    “”We made mistakes in the fifth game that we didnít even make in the first game,”” Crandell said. “”Itís a let down because itís over and they didnít even have a great game. We could have taken it from them while they were down.””

    Crandell once again earned team-high honors with 19 kills, while Kim Morohunfola put down 25 for CSUSB. The statistics reflect the evenness of the match with UCSD out-hitting the Coyotes .214-.210, CSUSB with a 78-69 edge in digs, and each team with 13 blocks.

    What has been an intense, emotional and sometimes personal rivalry in the past seemed more subdued. At the opening, Crandell ó a newcomer to the rivalry ó noticed something tentative about the Coyote players upon which the Tritons were unable to capitalize.

    “”I felt that they were kind of scared of us,”” she said. “”The attitude wasnít there. They seemed scared to make the mistakes.””

    CSUSBís timidity may have been matched by UCSDís overconfidence.

    “”I just donít think we expected to lose,”” Canape said. “”[The loss] was a surprise almost.””

    The results of the next American Volleyball Coachesí Association poll will be released on Sept. 30, but should UCSD fall, they have a clear idea in mind as to when they might retake the top spot.

    “”When [CSUSB] comes back to RIMAC on Halloween, weíre definitely going to be ready, and the energyís going to be through the roof,”” Canape said.

    Crandell was willing to go a bit further in her prediction.

    “”Weíre really excited to play them at home because we know were going to kick their ass,”” she said.

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