Volleyball Splits Final Games of Season

    Readers can contact Robert Ingle at [email protected] This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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    WOMEN’S VOLLEYBALL ‘mdash; The No. 11 Tritons split their final regular season games of the year by defeating Humboldt State 27-25, 25-22, 18-25, 25-10 before falling to Sonoma State 25-23, 27-25, 21-25, 23-25, 11-15.

    Reflecting back on the final regular-season games, junior outside hitter Karen Reis said the team excelled at meeting challenges during the season and expects the Tritons’ resiliency to continue into the playoffs.

    ‘This year our conference play was tough, but hopefully all that competition prepared us for regionals,’ Reis said.

    In the Saturday night match at Seawolf Gym, UCSD had trouble stopping Sonoma State’s senior outside hitter Kristy Sather who finished the night with 22 kills.

    In the opening game, UCSD fell behind after Sather hit consecutive kills to give Sonoma State an early 4-1 advantage. The Seawolves maintained their lead despite freshman outside hitter Katie Condon’s efforts to ignite a UCSD rally. Behind 20-17, Condon and junior outside hitter Sylvia Schimdt got the momentum rolling for the Tritons with back-to-back kills, and UCSD pulled to within one point. The Tritons went on to take the set on Schmidt’s ace.

    The energy from the opening game carried into the second set with the Tritons taking a commanding 20-13 lead. Following a timeout, the Seawolves responded with a 7-0 run to tie the game at 20. Both teams battled to take the set, with UCSD winning behind the play of freshman outside hitter Hillary Williamson. Williamson broke the 25-25 tie with a kill and allowed the Tritons to take the game on’ junior setter Elaine Chen’s ace.

    The third and fourth games were closely contested, with the Tritons unable to orchestrate scoring runs. Sather came to life for the Seawolves with five kills in the fourth set to bring Sonoma State back from being down 10-3, and the fifth set was forced after a 23-23 tie was broken by a Triton service error and another Sather kill.

    The Tritons appeared to regain their offensive rhythm early in the decisive fifth game and took a 4-1 lead. However, Sonoma State immediately fought back to tie the score at
    11, taking advantage of UCSD miscues to close the match.

    Senior outside hitter Rebecca Bailey led the Tritons with 16 kills and Reis contributed 14 digs.

    Against Humboldt State the previous night, UCSD fought early to control the upset-minded Lumberjacks before getting into a rhythm and showcasing its serving.

    The Tritons failed to get their offense going early on, and Humboldt capitalized on this struggle, battling to control the game and taking a 24-21 lead late in the set. Condon and Schmidt pulled UCSD out of its slump by delivering three crucial kills, with Schmidt again elevating her play to deliver the final block in the comeback.

    The second set was similar to the opener as the Tritons failed to click on offense but rallied late to take the win. Trailing 22-21, UCSD made a push after a Condon kill and an ace by senior defensive specialist Michelle Torres. At set point, Condon sent down the game-ender off an assist by Chen.

    After falling in the third set, the Tritons began to show offensive life early in the fourth game, taking a 6-2 lead following a kill by Bailey. The Lumberjacks fought back to come to within a point at 6-5, before the Tritons finally got their offense rolling. Condon hit three kills and Williamson served up three aces as UCSD came together for its largest margin of victory in a single set this season.
    Torres, who finished the night with nine digs, felt that even though the Tritons looked good offensively, it was their defense that really made the difference in the final period.

    ‘Our passing and our defense significantly improved during the last set,’ she said. ‘Our defenders finally began picking up on their hitters’ tendencies, which made it difficult for them to score against us.’

    On the night, Condon finished with a career-high 20 kills on .447 hitting, while Chen added 50 assists and six digs.

    Heading into the playoffs, the team feels that the key to success is controlling its own play by focusing on its strengths, according to Torres.

    ‘We really want to continue to build on our serving and passing,’ she said. ‘As long as we maintain focus on what happens on our side of the net and the things we can control, we will be able to execute our game in any gym without being dictated by the level of play of our opponents or the crowd.’

    UCSD entered the previous week as the No. 2 ranked team in the region, and will face CSU Los Angeles in the first round of the NCAA Pacific West Regional Tournament on Nov. 20 at San Bernardino. Despite ending the season on a sour note, the team is looking ahead.

    ‘We are ready to get after it and show everyone what UCSD is capable of,’ Reis said. ‘When we are focused and playing our game we should be unstoppable.’

    Readers can contact Robert Ingle at [email protected] This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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