UCSD Stumbles After Big Upset

The Tritons were unable to pull out the fifth and final set against Chico State University on Oct. 3 despite recording a convincing victory in the fourth set of the road game.

WOMEN’S VOLLEYBALL — After taking down ranked California Collegiate Athletic Association conference opponents — including No. 1 Cal State San Bernardino — in last week’s matchups, the UCSD women had mixed results from its weekend games. The Tritons slipped up against Chico State on Oct. 3, falling in five sets, 25-23, 20-25, 25-19, 16-29, 15-11 at Acker Gym before defeating Cal State Stanislaus on Oct. 4 to bring their record to 12-3, 6-2 CCAA.

Though disappointed with the loss last Friday, the Tritons were resilient and came back the following night, taking down Cal State Stanislaus (4-14, 1-7 CCAA). In the match, the Tritons came out strong from the start, but had to elevate their play in the fourth set to fend off the scrappy upstart Warriors, 25-17, 25-21, 21-25, 27-25.

UCSD regained its winning form in the Saturday night game, hitting .345 while holding Cal State Stanislaus to .043 in the first set. Using several 5-0 runs early on, the Tritons held a 13-7 lead before the Warriors seemed to know what was going on. Freshman outside hitter Hillary Williamson was a major contributor to Cal State Stanislaus’ woes, recording six kills in seven swings with a .857 hitting percentage.

In the second set the Warriors fought to recover from the previous round, but had to contend with the Triton duo of senior outside hitter Rebecca Bailey and junior outside hitter Sylvia Schmidt. After falling behind 12-11, the Tritons came back to take the lead, and were ahead 22-20 when Schmidt put down back-to-back kills and Bailey finished off the set with the final kill.

Junior setter Elaine Chen, UCSD’s assist leader, had 29 assists through the first two sets and was concentrated on getting her team to polish its game.
“We wanted to focus on our side of the court and what we were doing as a team rather then worry about what the other team was doing,” Chen said. “Our plan was to stay focused and composed, and for the most part, I think we did that. “

However, the young Cal State Stanislaus team was able to sneak one out from under the Tritons in the third set, staying even or just ahead for almost the entirety of the set. Tied at 21, the Warriors made their move and scored four straight points, the final three by forcing UCSD errors, to take the win. In the fourth and final set the Warriors put up a valiant effort, tying up the match 12 times and even leading 22-18 before Schmidt took over and led the Tritons to take the match.

Schmidt finished the night with 20 kills on .457 hitting, while Williamson recorded 11 kills and a team-high 10 digs. Senior standout Bailey also had 11 kills and moved to within 10 of the UCSD school record set by Stacy Dunsmore with a career total of 1,172 kills.

The No. 12 Tritons dropped the game against Chico State, despite at times playing well throughout the match. Senior outside hitter Kimberly Carpenter thought the team put out a good effort, but just wasn’t quite clicking.

“We let the new environment get to us and we didn’t play our game the entire time,” Carpenter said. “We let them determine the pace of the game whereas we usually dictate the pace and play our game.”

UCSD led in the first set 13-4 before the Wildcats fought back and rallied to take the opener behind the play of senior setter Erica Brick. Brick totaled five aces for the match, with four in the opening set. In the second set, the Tritons came back to win under the leadership of Schmidt and Bailey, who had four and three kills respectively.

The third set was handled by Chico State, which ended the set on a 4-0 run despite the efforts of Chen, who recorded 11 assists for the set. In the next set, the Tritons started slowly but exploded at the finish and seemed to be in control of the Wildcats. In the most lopsided set of the match, the Tritons had six players record kills, with the final set-winning kill from sophomore middle blocker Cara Simonsen.

Though the Tritons had momentum heading into the fifth and final set, they couldn’t quite put it together to pull out the win. In a struggle with multiple lead changes, Chico State eventually pulled away to take the win.

The match had nine lead changes and was tied 21 times, as both teams fought hard on the floor. Bailey had her best night of the year with 20 kills and only one error on .463 hitting, while Schmidt, the CCAA player of the week, finished with 16 kills on .333 hitting to go along with five digs and four aces.

The Tritons will return home for their next matchup on Oct. 10 against Sonoma State at 7 p.m. in RIMAC Arena.

“We are a young team, but we are learning and getting better with every game that goes by,” Chen said. “Our whole conference is tough, and so this week we’re going to prepare hard as usual, and I have complete confidence that we will stay focused on taking it one game at a time.”