Seniors Out in Style

John Hanacek / Guardian

Back in September, the Tritons’ season seemed to be in jeopardy after a fifth straight loss. This weekend, the UCSD Women’s Volleyball team found some peace by completing a sweep in the second half of the season of the teams that sent the squad to the brink.

“I was hoping to win another game at that point,” head coach Ricci Luyties said. “I know this team is good, but we weren’t playing well for awhile. I think now their confidence is up, and the difference is they’re playing well at the end of games.”

The Tritons beat Cal State Stanislaus 25-20, 25-23, 22-25 and 25-19 on Friday night, followed by a sweep of Chico State on Saturday with set scores of 25-13, 25-19 and 25-19.

Against Stanislaus, junior Roxy Brunsting led the way with 14 kills, 21 assists and 8 digs. Juniors Hilary Williamson and Katie Condon each had a double-double in kills and digs as the Tritons were able to grind out a victory. The Tritons won the first two games, but seemed to lose focus in the third set.

“I get worried when they get a little complacent,” Luyties said. “As we’ve seen, every team can beat us at any time, especially if we’re making mistakes. If we get in that mindset where we think we’re going to win and we’re going to cruise through, [that] is when we have problems.”

The Warriors hit .225 in the third game and cut the Triton lead with a 22-25 victory. But the Tritons came back in the fourth set, going on a 7-0 run in the middle of the game to put the match to rest.

Junior libero Janessa Werhane added 24 digs, playing an outstanding game defensively.

“Janessa played really well tonight,” Luyties said. “She got to balls she hadn’t been getting to earlier in the year. She’s getting digs, and her passing has been great all year. Now that she is moving and digging balls all over the place, it’s really a plus for us. She’s really stepped up.”

Saturday’s match was Senior Night, as seniors Audrey Green, Alanna Rutan, Cara Simonsen and Caitlin Potter were recognized for their achievements as Tritons before the team played its last regular season match in RIMAC arena.

The Tritons made sure to send off their seniors in style, as the squad produced an emphatic 3-0 win over Chico State. Brunsting nearly had a triple-double with 11 kills, 22 assists and 9 digs and Condon once again had a double-double in kills and digs. But it was Potter who had the final kill to put the Wildcats away.

“It felt really, really great,” Potter said. “To beat them in three was remarkable. It’s definitely something to go away with.”

UCSD hit a .305 clip on the match to record its  eighth straight win.

“Its definitely one of the best matches we’ve played,” Luyties said. “I thought the whole team played well, too. Every player on the court contributed in part of the game at least, and I think that as a team, this might have been our best effort.”

With the victories over Stanislaus and Chico State, the Tritons have now beaten all five of the opponents they lost to during their five-game skid early in the season. Potter had a simple answer to explain the turnaround.

“Practice,” she said. “Taking it one day at a time, and building on the beginning part of the season. We had kind of a rough start, so beating these teams we lost to — especially in three games — there’s nothing better than that.”

Luyties emphasized the impact the seniors have had, especially in his first year as UCSD head coach.

“Some of them haven’t been playing that much, and they have done an unbelievable job accepting that and doing whatever they can to help the team,” Luyties said. “As far as them contributing, they all have in their own ways, and they have at practice, in pushing each other and pushing the new players. They’ve done everything I could ask for in that manner.”

Even though the Tritons have won 10 of their last 11 matches, Luyties said they still have work to do. The team is 15-7 overall and 12-6 in the CCAA, putting the Tritons in third place in the standings.

“We’re still looking to win every match right now and keep this streak going,” Luyties said. “I still feel like we have to win them all. We’re in a pretty good spot right now, but things can change pretty quickly. We want to keep getting better.”

UCSD will travel to Cal State Dominguez Hills on Friday before playing at Cal State Los Angeles on Saturday.

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