Women’s Volleyball Downs Golden Eagles

    The fifth game in volleyball is pressure-packed — one missed serve, one hitting error, one bad call and the momentum can change.

    Arash Keshmirian/Guardian
    Senior outside hitter Nicole Courtney kept on top of the net as the Tritons kept the lead on the scoreboard over the Golden Eagles Oct. 7, stretching their win streak to seven games.

    The No. 14 UCSD women’s volleyball team fought hard to the very end in its first five-game test of the season and came out with a victory.

    Oct. 7 brought Cal State Los Angeles into RIMAC Arena in a matchup of the top two California Collegiate Athletic Conference programs.

    Ranked 16th in the nation, the Golden Eagles were hoping to bounce back from a tough defeat at the hands of Cal State San Bernardino a week earlier. The Tritons denied them, however, coming away with the win, 30-20, 30-25, 27-30, 28-30, 15-11.

    “I was excited because we practiced games to 15 all the time,” senior outside hitter Brianna Koche said. “It was good that we got to experience it before the playoffs or finals so we’re used to the pressure.”

    In game one, UCSD was in control 8-3 after Koche’s kill forced a Cal State Los Angeles timeout. The Tritons stretched the lead to 13-5 on freshman setter Elaine Chen’s service ace.

    After a 5-0 run by UCSD, the teams traded points and the Tritons ultimately ended the game with freshman middle blocker Sylvia Schmidt’s kill to win, 30-20.

    Game two was a little different from game one after the Tritons’ 11-5 advantage. The Golden Eagles cut the margin to three at 19-16 before UCSD went on a 6-2 run that finished with a Cal State Los Angeles hitting error and timeout.

    UCSD eventually won the game 30-25.

    The Golden Eagles then clawed their way back to force a fifth game with wins in games three and four.

    In game three, the Tritons took a 7-6 lead on a Schmidt kill from senior setter Kristin Halverson. The girls then fell behind 13-20 on an unusually poor set by outside hitter Nicole Courtney.

    UCSD refused to give up, fighting back and tying the game at 26 on a Cal State Los Angeles hitting error. The team then lost three of the next four points, falling to 27-30.

    “It definitely would’ve been nice to win in three,” Koche said. “We have the confidence and we’re aggressive. We know we’re better and we just needed to take care of our game.”

    Game four again saw a seesaw battle with 11 ties and only two lead changes.

    The Tritons fell behind early but tied the game at 14 on a kill by junior opposite Rebecca Bailey. The Golden Eagles ultimately took control, taking a 20-24 lead. UCSD refused to give them the satisfaction, and tied the game at 28, but lost the next two points and the game 28-30.

    In the deciding fifth game, the Tritons took the lead, 3-2, and never looked back, stretching the advantage to 12-7 on a Cal State Los Angeles hitting error.

    Schmidt gave the Tritons the 15-11 game-five win and the match off of a kill.

    “It definitely is pressure but it’s fun pressure,” Bailey said. “It’s what you play volleyball for. We practice for it every day and our drills are geared for helping us.”

    Courtney led the Tritons with 17 kills, 17 digs and five aces. Koche was close behind, totaling 16 kills, while Halverson contributed 43 assists.

    The girls defeated Cal State Bakersfield in a much less dramatic fashion 30-22, 30-23, 30-21 on Oct. 6. UCSD hit an outstanding .384 clip, with Bailey, Koche and Courtney accounting for 44 of the team’s kills.

    The Tritons fell behind 7-11 in game one before jumping out to a commanding 29-21 lead. UCSD finished the game on a 7-3 run, taking the opener 30-22.

    In game two, the girls used two of junior outside hitter Amber Ries’ kills to tie the game at 4.

    Tied again at 11-11, UCSD went on a 9-2 run that included two kills by Koche and two service aces by Schmidt. Koche closed game two with a kill and a 30-23 victory.

    The team jumped out to an 8-2 lead in game three and used the advantage to score the 30-21 win.

    Koche had another outstanding night with 15 kills and no errors. Schmidt tacked on eight more kills along with five digs, four blocks and four aces.

    UCSD will try to continue its season-high seven-game winning streak and avenge its early season loss against No. 12 Chico State on Oct. 13.

    According to Koche, there was much left to be desired after the first matchup, in which UCSD fell at home in three disappointing games.

    “We’re really excited to go up there and play them,” Koche said. “We didn’t play our game last time and it would be really nice to go there and win in three in their home gym.”

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