Lady Tritons Sweep Final Homestand

    WOMEN’S VOLLEYBALL — In their final home series of the year, the UCSD women’s volleyball team swept consecutive opponents Cal State Stanislaus and Chico State on Nov. 6 and Nov. 7. Prior to the match against Chico State, the seniors from UCSD’s squad were honored in front of 827 fans in a ceremony that commemorated their final collegiate match at RIMAC Arena.

    The team’s four seniors have all played pivotal roles in the UCSD Athletics program for the last few seasons, helping make the squad and the university a dominant force in the California Collegiate Athletic Association.

    “I felt that each one of us brought something new and unique to the team,” senior outside hitter Rebecca Bailey said. “I’ve gotten a lot closer with the team this year in particular, and it’s just been great getting to play with these girls.”

    In the senior-night game on Friday, the No. 12 Tritons avenged a previous loss to the Chico State Wildcats (18-10, 11-7 CCAA) earlier this season in straight sets 25-17, 25-21, 26-24. Senior setter Kacey Martinez warmed up early on, going 5-for-5 on assists to lead the UCSD offense in the first game. The Tritons gained a 10-4 lead and never looked back, pulling ahead by as many as seven points late in the set. The game ended on a kill by junior outside hitter Sylvia Schmidt — one of her 12 kills of the night.

    In the second game, the team jumped out to an early 7-2 advantage by forcing Chico State out of its normal high-speed offensive rhythm. UCSD never let up, holding an eight-point lead mid-set after an ace by junior setter Elaine Chen. Despite a rally by the Wildcats that brought them within two points at 21-19, consecutive kills by Schmidt again ended the game in the Tritons’ favor.

    Chico State gained some early momentum in the third set, leading 10-8 after a back-and-forth beginning. After several even scores and lead changes, the Tritons were behind 22-18 before senior outside hitter Kimberly Carpenter stepped in. After a kill, she served up two consecutive points for the Tritons and evened the score at 22. A service ace by Schmidt and two errors by the Wildcats topped off the sweep for UCSD. Bailey ended with a total of 12 kills while Carpenter came out with seven.

    “It’s definitely a bittersweet feeling,” senior defensive specialist Michelle Torres said. “You look around and see your home crowd and think about all the great memories you’ve had playing in the gym over the past four years and then you realize that it’s over. You never think it’s going to come to an end — it just kind of sneaks up on you.”

    In Thursday night’s game, UCSD improved to a 22-2 all-time record versus Cal State Stanislaus (6-22, 3-15 CCAA), sweeping the Warriors 25-20, 25-22, 25-19. Though the Tritons have seen success when up against California State teams in the past, the game started out a little rocky for the squad.

    The beginning of the first set featured nine tie scores and was higly contested. The Tritons trailed 15-13 before rallying behind freshman outside hitter Hillary Williamson. Williamson served up an ace to give UCSD a two-point lead and then sent down two of the final three kills that allowed the Tritons to take game one.

    The Warriors took a 16-10 advantage, apparently on their way to taking set two, when freshman outside hitter Katie Condon led the Tritons to a seven-point run. UCSD managed a 23-20 lead, and Schmidt and Bailey reinforced the win with back-to-back kills in the set’s last moments.

    The third and final set of the night remained close until kills by Condon and Schmidt put UCSD ahead 10-8. The closest the Warriors came to a comeback was at 13-12, but Williamson responded by sending down a kill and posting a block to stymie Cal State Stanislaus. The match ended with two final kills from Carpenter. Bailey led the way for the Tritons with 13 kills on .407 hitting, while Williamson chipped in 11 kills to complement her seven digs.

    After triumphing in their final home games of the season, the Tritons see their goal of winning a national championship as a real possibility. With only two regular-season games remaining before playoffs begin, the team is up to the challenge.

    “Our team has trained so hard since the end of last season to prepare itself,” Torres said. “I know that we can beat any team in the country when we play our game, so we just need to approach our opponents with an aggressive and confident mentality and take care of business. We want to have fun, but more importantly, finish the season with no regrets.”

    The Tritons will end the regular season on the road against Humboldt State Nov. 14 and Sonoma State Nov. 15.

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