Women’s volleyball shuts out weekend

    None of the teams in the California Collegiate Athletic Association can find any holes in the nearly flawless play of the No. 2 UCSD women’s volleyball team, which posted back-to-back 3-0 sweeps of Chico State and Cal State Stanislaus on Oct. 22 and Oct. 23, respectively, at RIMAC Arena.

    Even Chico State head coach Cody Hein knew his team was in for a tough challenge against the Tritons.

    “We knew very well we were coming up against the No. 2 team in the country,” Hein said. “And we don’t match up well with them [physically] because they can hit over us. When you’re playing a team which is that superior to you in talent, [and] they give you those easy points, you have to take them. We didn’t win those points.”

    The Tritons (23-1, 13-0 CCAA) came prepared to beat Chico State, and adjusted to everything their opponents threw at them, evident in some big blocks in game three to seal the win.

    With game one tied, 8-8, senior outside hitter Stacy Dunsmore caught the Wildcats off guard when she just flicked the ball over the net, giving UCSD the lead before they ran away with game one, 30-19.

    In game two, Chico State made some changes and began setting differently to keep the match within three points late in the game. At 23-20, Hein called a timeout to rally his team, but it ended up working to the Tritons’ advantage. UCSD clung tightly to its lead and outworked Chico State to win the long rallies. Its defense paid off, especially senior outside hitter Bonnie Wilson, who kept diving after the ball, almost running into the scorer’s table on a few occasions to keep the point alive. She also clinched game two for the Tritons with a kill to down the Wildcats, 30-24.

    With Chico State making necessary changes to keep game two close, the Wildcats thought they could finally crack UCSD in game three. They ran into a wall, however, namely Wilson and senior middle blocker Kendra Canape, who came up with solid defense to send the Tritons into a 9-0 run. Canape and Wilson’s blocks continued to be a key factor in game three, igniting UCSD especially after their blocks won the longer rallies.

    “I felt great. I felt like we had a really good, solid blocking match,” Canape said. “Our energy is a lot higher when we’re able to put the other team down. Our defense is solid anyway, so when we’re able to add more blocks, it’s good.”

    Canape and Wilson’s blocks, Chico State’s 14 errors and UCSD’s .316 attack percentage were too much for the Wildcats to handle, and they lost game three, 30-17. Whitney Johnson and Meghan McKinney tallied 10 and eight kills, respectively, in the losing effort.

    “It was fun,” Wilson said. “We had a lot of energy, especially in the third game. I felt like we let them in a little too much in the first two games, especially in the second game. We put a lot of energy in the third game and we had some good plays [and] some great blocks that really helped us.”

    Wil-son led UCSD with 15 kills and 14 digs, plus Canape added 10 kills. Senior setter Teresa Ohta guided the offense with 32 kills and an ace while adding nine digs. Defensively, freshman libero Natalie Facchini led with 15 digs while Dunsmore recorded 10 digs of her own.

    Even Hein had to admit the Wildcats could not keep up.

    “A big credit to [head coach] Duncan [McFarland]. I think he’s got his team playing a lot better,” he said. “When they came up to play us, they weren’t blocking that well, and tonight, they clearly have been working on blocking. He’s just such a fabulous coach. They run a quick offense and their ball control is very good.”

    The Tritons continued their momentum through to the next match against Cal State Stanislaus, sweeping the Warriors 30-12, 30-13, 30-26. Dunsmore took charge at this match with 11 kills and six digs. Facchini had 13 digs to record back-to-back match highs while Wilson and senior middle blocker Katie Hogan each tallied nine kills. Ohta distributed 25 assists before resting in game three and freshman setter Kimberly Adams stepped in and added 14 assists.

    Once again, the Tritons played well overall and took games one and two decisively. The Warriors rallied back in game three to trail UCSD, 28-26. After a Triton timeout, UCSD closed the match with a Dunsmore kill. The Tritons now look ahead to a big match against No. 7 Cal State San Bernardino on Oct. 27 at 7 p.m. at RIMAC Arena. With the regular season winding down, UCSD is ready to face tougher opponents to prepare for the playoffs.

    “I think there’s no question that the team is looking at the match against San Bernardino because they are such a strong team,” McFarland said. “We do a good job playing well against a team that’s not pushing us that hard. I can tell everyone is getting antsy for a big challenge now, and we know that playoffs are coming up.”

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