Lady Tritons Upset Attempt Falls Short

The Tritons were unable to repeat their magic from earlier in the season when they toppled then-No. 1 Cal State San Bernardino on Sept. 26. This time they fell to the Coyotes in three straight sets. (John Hanacek/Guardian)

WOMEN’S VOLLEYBALL — After winning a five-set thriller Friday night against No. 20 Cal Poly Pomona, the No. 15 UCSD women’s volleyball team fell to No. 2 Cal State San Bernardino on Saturday night in straight sets 27-25, 25-13, 25-16.

In their previous encounter on Sept. 26, the Tritons toppled the then-No. 1 Cal State San Bernardino Coyotes (21-3, 13-3 California Collegiate Athletic Association) in five games. Going into Saturday night, the UCSD team was excited to play its conference rival, especially after the exhilarating win the previous night.

In the opening set, both squads battled to take control, with neither team gaining any momentum. In a set that featured 14 ties and 10 lead changes, the Tritons held a 24-22 advantage late in the game, but the team struggled to capitalize with a service error and an attack error on the next two points. A kill by senior outside hitter Rebecca Bailey put UCSD ahead 25-24, but the Coyotes capitalized on the Tritons’ mistakes with three straight kills to take the set.

The second game began exactly like the opening set — in an almost dead heat — with five ties before the score reached 7-7. However, the tide began to change following a Cal State San Bernardino timeout with the score 11-10. After both teams rallied for a point each, the Coyotes went on a 9-0 run, taking advantage of Triton errors to easily win the set.

In the conclusive third game, Cal State San Bernardino jumped out to an early lead, taking advantage of the momentum built up from the previous set. The Tritons weren’t able to get back into the game, and the Coyotes continued to punish UCSD for its errors. Cal State San Bernardino hit a .560 clip compared to the Tritons’ .172 percentage. In defeat, Bailey led UCSD with 15 kills and redshirt freshman defensive specialist Roxanne Brunsting had a team-high eight digs. Senior outside hitter Kimberly Carpenter described how the team just seemed to be a bit off of its norm.

“We had an off night and just weren’t clicking as a team,” Carpenter said. “Our serving is usually a strong point and it wasn’t really connecting.”

Friday night’s match against No. 20 Cal Poly Pomona (15-6, 12-4 CCAA) was a hard-fought clash for the Tritons. The Broncos were coming off a victory against No. 2 Cal State San Bernardino the previous Wednesday night and held a perfect 7-0 home record.

Despite UCSD holding an early advantage, Cal Poly Pomona took the first set. The Tritons led 14-6 after kills by Bailey and junior setter Elaine Chen before the Broncos rallied to tie the score at 19. Despite kills from Bailey and junior outside hitter Sylvia Schmidt to level the score late in the game, Cal Poly Pomona came through with the win.

The second and third sets featured stronger play from Bailey, as the senior led the way with five consecutive kills in the second set and a critical kill during the third set to tie the score at 23. Following Bailey’s lead, Schmidt hit a crucial kill and an ace in the third game and UCSD took a 2-1 advantage in the match.

Cal Poly Pomona came back to win the fourth set before senior outside hitter Kimberly Carpenter stepped up to lead the way for the Tritons in the fifth game. Carpenter recorded consecutive kills followed by a block assist to give UCSD a 7-5 lead. The senior recorded three more kills during a Triton rally before Schmidt ended the match with a kill.

Carpenter finished the game with five kills — all in the decisive fifth set — while Bailey totaled 23 kills on the night. Freshman outside hitter Hillary Williamson continued her strong rookie campaign with seven kills and a team-high 16 digs. Carpenter felt excited with how well the team was playing together, especially during the final set.

“We were just really clicking as a team,” Carpenter said. “We were playing in our system and everyone seemed right on and doing their jobs. I really felt like this was one of the first times during the season that we really put it all together and it was awesome.”

Following their weekend series split, the Tritons are 18-5 (12-4 CCAA) and look to bounce back against Cal State Stanislaus on Nov. 6 at 7 p.m. in RIMAC Arena. UCSD will follow that game with a matchup against Chico State University on Nov. 7 at 7 p.m. In its earlier matches this season, the Tritons recorded a 3-1 win over Cal State Stanislaus and fell to Chico State 3-2.