Women’s Volleyball AimIng for D-II Title

    The UCSD women’s volleyball team entered its 2007 campaign boasting an impressive resume from last season: California Collegiate Athletic Association runner-up, NCAA D-II Pacific Regional champion and one of the Elite Eight teams at the NCAA D-II Championships.
    Such a successful season should give third-year head coach Tom Black assurance that this year’s Tritons can duplicate their predecessors; but even he knows that the season is long and that there are many surprises in store.
    “[The CCAA] is the toughest conference in the country,” Black said. “Every night is important. We played a much tougher preseason than last year and we’ve learned a lot but we’re still working.”
    Led by their captains, seniors Natalie Facchini and Amber Ries and junior Rebecca Bailey, the Tritons climbed to a No. 4 preseason ranking, setting high expectations coming into the season. All three have felt what the NCAA tournament feels like and they want it again.
    “Our goal is to make it to nationals,” Bailey said. “This team has the talent, ability and work ethic. We got off to a slow start and now it’s about believing.”
    At 9-5 overall and 3-3 in conference, the team is just now fulfilling its potential. The team is focusing on improving its transition and swing game.
    “The problem is being addressed,” Black said. “We’re working very hard to get quicker in our game and the results have shown in games where we do it well.”
    The Tritons opened up their season playing 11 of their first 12 away from home. UCSD started the long road trip in San Bernardino going 2-2 at the Coyote Classic with both losses coming in five games against ranked opponents. The Tritons regrouped in Hawaii, going 4-0 without dropping a single set. The team then stretched its winning streak to six before being downed by Cal State Los Angeles in UCSD’s home opener.
    Returning home for only the second time this season, the No. 21 Tritons faced a pair of fellow CCAA competitors in No. 2 Cal State San Bernardino and Cal Poly Pomona.
    A scrappy Coyote team from San Bernardino was too much for the Tritons in front of a raucous home crowd as UCSD went down 16-30, 22-30, 28-30. Junior outside hitter Bailey tallied 11 kills to lead the Tritons and senior outside hitter Casey Wilson added nine.
    The team rebounded Sept. 22 as UCSD outmatched an outstanding Cal Poly Pomona team, 30-24, 30-17, 30-28, avenging the disappointing loss the night before. The Tritons were quicker, hit harder and served better than a Bronco team that came into the match with only two losses.
    “[The Cal State San Bernardino game] was the first game against a tough team that we didn’t lose our composure,” Black said. “We gained a lot of confidence and tonight was the first time we’ve seen the play on the court the same as in practice.”
    Now that the Tritons seem to have everything working on the court, they will look to maintain their momentum with some more wins.
    The Tritons’ next chance will come when they face CCAA opponent Humboldt State. First serve is set for 7 p.m. on Sept. 29 at RIMAC Arena.

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