No. 2 Tritons sweep twice at home

The No. 2 UCSD women’s volleyball team wrapped up its final regular season home stand with a pair of sweeps against Cal Poly Pomona (30-22, 30-26, 30-27) and Cal State Dominguez Hills (30-25, 30-25, 30-22) at RIMAC Arena on Nov. 5 and Nov. 6, respectively.

With the victories, UCSD improved its record to 25-1 overall and 15-0 in the California Collegiate Athletic Association. The Tritons need a win on the road against either Cal State Monterey Bay on Nov. 12 or Sonoma State on Nov. 13 to become the 2004 CCAA titleholders. Cal Poly Pomona’s record dropped to 16-10 overall, 11-5 CCAA while Cal State Dominguez Hills fell to 13-12 overall, 6-10 CCAA.

Against Cal Poly Pomona, the Tritons and Broncos traded ties in game one until UCSD took a 16-14 lead that it held on to for the win. After falling behind 14-8 in game two, the Tritons staged a comeback win, 30-26. Play was even tighter in game three, with neither team taking control until late in the game, when senior middle blocker Kendra Canape contributed back-to-back kills to put UCSD at match point, 29-26. A Bronco service error won UCSD game three and the match, 30-27.

Triton senior outside hitter Bonnie Wilson led all players with 16 kills and added seven digs. Senior setter Teresa Ohta tallied 37 assists. On defense, Natalie Facchini had a match-high 13 digs, followed by senior outside hitter Stacy Dunsmore, who had nine digs and eight kills. Junior middle blocker Allison Anderson had 10 kills for the Broncos.

The match against Cal State Dominguez Hills was also tough for the Tritons, who seemed a bit out of sync offensively, despite pulling out the big plays at clutch times to earn the sweep.

“I think they blocked really well,” Wilson said. “I obviously got stuffed millions of times; I got frustrated. They just played really well, they had good defense, and we didn’t play that well either.”

Although the Toro defense frustrated Wilson, she led all players with 11 kills, 13 digs and assisted on three blocks. Senior middle blocker Katie Hogan notched 10 kills and Canape had nine. Ohta, as usual, executed solid sets to guide the offense with 37 assists, eight digs, an ace and four kills of her own. Facchini, repeating the previous match’s performance, tallied 13 digs, followed by Dunsmore, who had nine digs and seven kills for UCSD. Cal State Dominguez Hills junior outside hitter Tiare Alailima had 10 kills and 17 digs in the loss.

“I felt like we were a bit off, not to take anything away from [Cal State Dominguez Hills] but I just think [because of] the Senior Night and stuff, we’ve kind of been distracted by a few things,” Triton head coach Duncan McFarland said. “But, quite frankly, we’re just not playing our best right now, and it concerns me. The players know it, and I’ve been getting on them because we’ve been working hard in practice, but we’re just kind of off a little bit.”

Game one saw the Tritons and Toros tying several times. At 17-17, UCSD scored four straight points under Dunsmore’s serve to take the game’s first big lead. Cal State Dominguez Hills’ senior middle blocker Vivian Maxie put away a kill to side out for the Toros. Ohta responded with a kill to bring the serve back to the Tritons. With Hogan serving, UCSD tallied five straight points, extending its lead to 27-18. Dunsmore added a kill to put the Tritons at match point, 29-20. The Toros held on to save five match points. Canape registered a kill to finish game one, 30-25.

Cal State Dominguez Hills and UCSD played evenly to tie things up at 12-12 in game two before the Tritons took charge and claimed the lead at 17-16 with a kill by Hogan. She proved to be clutch late in the game, using a kill to end a long rally, teaming up with Ohta for a block and another kill to put UCSD at game point, 29-23. The Toros responded with a kill and a block of their own, but senior outside hitter Christine Tran served into the net to help the Tritons take game two, 30-25.

Hogan and Dunsmore tallied a block to break the 7-7 tie in game three giving UCSD a lead it never surrendered to win the match, 30-22. Although the Tritons’ performances in both matches concern McFarland, he is optimistic that his team will turn things around.

“But the good news is that normally you don’t want to be peaking now anyway, so it lets us know that we have some things to work on,” he said. “We kind of had trouble with the big blocks that Dominguez put up, so we’re going to practice that.”

The match against Cal State Dominguez Hills was Senior Night, when seven Tritons were honored before the match: Canape, Dunsmore, Hogan, Ohta, defensive specialist/libero Robin Parlette, Wilson and outside hitter Kelsey Wiedenhoefer.

“It’s been amazing, and I’ve loved it so much,” Wilson said of her time playing at UCSD. “I actually wasn’t here my freshman year, but I don’t feel like it all. I feel like I’ve been here four years. I’m so excited to be here and have been able to play at this school.”