CSULA Halts Triton Win Streak at Four

WOMEN’S VOLLEYBALL — Riding a three-game winning streak, the No. 13 UCSD women’s volleyball team looked to be playing at its peak form entering games on Oct. 16 and 17. However, the Tritons were only able to extend their recent success for one of the two matches, sweeping Cal State Dominguez Hills 25-15, 25-21, 25-18 on Thursday night before falling to Cal State Los Angeles 25-27, 23-25, 25-18, 25-18, 15-9 on Friday. After the contests, the Tritons dropped to 15-4, with a 9-3 record in California Collegiate Athletic Association standings.

Sophomore middle blocker Cara Simonsen said the team used the momentum from its first game, in which the Tritons dominated the Toros, to start the match off strong against the Golden Eagles.

“We went into that game against Los Angeles feeling confident,” Simonsen said. “And it showed in the first two games. We put out a lot of intensity and executed really well.”

The Tritons grabbed the momentum early against No. 19 Cal State Los Angeles (16-3, 9-3 CCAA), mainly behind the play of senior outside hitter Rebecca Bailey. The UCSD all-time career kills leader started strong, recording nine of her match-high 19 kills in the first set. Despite Bailey’s solid play, the Golden Eagles kept the game close and managed to tie the score six times before UCSD took the win on a Cal State Los Angeles ball-handling mishap.

In the second set, UCSD fell behind early and was down 10-5 after several attack errors before mounting a rally to tie the score at 11. Both squads unsuccessfully fought to take control of the set until the Tritons pulled ahead 22-21 and finished the game with kills by Bailey and freshman outside hitter Hillary Williamson.

With UCSD taking the first two sets, the Golden Eagles made some adjustments that caused the Tritons to get out of their game plan.

“They are a real good team, so we expected them to make a charge, especially on their home court,” head coach Tom Black said. “They had a strong showing [in the third set] and we lost our composure a little bit and our serving struggled as a result. We spent a lot of time trying to recover, and that really didn’t happen.”

Taking sets three and four, the Golden Eagles swept up the momentum and carried it into the decisive fifth set by jumping out to an early lead. Trailing 8-2, the Tritons attempted a comeback with kills by Bailey and Williamson and a service ace by senior defensive specialist Michelle Torres. However, Cal State Los Angeles managed to maintain its lead, rallying to stay ahead. Freshman outside hitter Katie Condon stepped up for the Tritons with two more kills, but the Golden Eagles fended off the UCSD attack and took the match. In the defeat, Williamson finished with 12 kills and 15 digs while Condon added eight kills. Simonsen led the Tritons with a team-high six blocks.

On Thursday night at the Torodome in Carson, Calif., the Tritons continued their dominance over Cal State Dominguez Hills by improving their all-time record versus the Toros to 37-1, with their 16th consecutive sweep of the program.

Junior outside hitter Sylvia Schmidt served up a Triton attack early in the first set that resulted in a 9-0 run. Taking advantage of several Toro errors, UCSD held an 18-9 lead and won easily, with six different Tritons registering kills in the set, which ended on four UCSD kills.

In the second game, the Tritons fell behind by four points on two occasions before mounting a 6-0 run to take the lead 17-15 after a block by Simonsen and senior outside hitter Kimberly Carpenter. From that point on, the Tritons kept the lead and ended the game on consecutive aces by sophomore middle blocker Kaitlin Potter.

With the momentum built up after winning the first two sets, the Tritons jumped out early with Williamson hammering down five kills to give UCSD the lead at 8-3. The Toros cut the deficit to four but were unable to mount a comeback, mainly due to Williamson, who finished the set with eight of her match-high 14 kills. The Tritons also put a lot of serving pressure on Cal State Dominguez Hills, adding to their No. 2 national ranking in service aces per set with 11 on the night.

Hoping to bounce back from their series split, UCSD returns to action against San Francisco State Oct. 24 at 7 p.m. in RIMAC Arena.

“The loss hurt,” Black said. “The only positives are learning the lessons and moving on. That’s the challenge this week — to learn from the games and to get better. I’m confident that we will, it’s just going to take some discipline.”