San Bernardino Bests Tritons in Season Finale

    The Tritons needed five sets to complete a comeback against Cal Poly Pomona on Friday, as UCSD extended its winning streak to 11 matches despite dropping the first two sets. That winning streak was abruptly halted on Saturday, when No. 6 Cal State San Bernardino swept the Tritons to complete its fifth consecutive CCAA Championship.

    Despite the loss, the Tritons still earned a berth into the NCAA Division II tournament for the fifth year in a row. The squad was given the fourth seed in the West Region, and will face conference rival Sonoma State on Nov. 18.

    Against Pomona, the Tritons lost both of the first two sets 25-22, but came back to win the next three by scores of 25-15, 25-19 and 15-11.  Junior Katie Condon had a game-high 15 kills and 23 digs, junior Hilary Williamson added 12 kills and 20 digs and the Tritons pulled out of the hole they created for themselves early in the match.

    Even after rallying to force a fifth set, the Tritons nearly let the match slip away in the final game as the Broncos took a 9-5 lead. But they refused to go away and scored 5 straight points to make the score 10-9. With the set score tied at 11-11, the Tritons went on a 4-0 run to seal the win.

    “Everything was going wrong for us the first two games,” Luyties said. “To overcome all that I thought was really good.”

    But on Saturday, the Tritons suffered their worst defeat of the season as they lost 3-0 to nationally sixth-ranked San Bernardino. The Coyotes never trailed on their way to winning their first two sets 25-14 and 25-19, and emphatically rallied to take the third set 25-18. The Tritons hit just .120 on the match as the Coyotes cruised to their 12th straight victory.

    “They really don’t have much of a weakness with their team,” Luyties said. “With that, we have to play a really good match, and we did not. We had a couple players play pretty well, but I thought that, all around, it wasn’t one of the best matches for quite a few of our starters — although I’m glad it happened this weekend instead of next weekend.”

    The Tritons finished the regular season 18-8 overall and 15-7 in the CCAA.

    UCSD will face Sonoma State for the third time this season on Nov. 19. The Tritons swept the first match on Sept. 11, but were pushed to a tiebreaking fifth set in their second meeting on Oct. 15. The Seawolves have won five of their last six matches, and the team is looking for its first tournament win in the school’s history.

    Luyties said his players will be wary of Sonoma State, despite the success they’ve had against the Seawolves this season.

    “That’s a tricky thing,” Luyties said. “Sonoma is a good team, and I think the times they’ve played us they haven’t played their best. It’s happened in the past with teams I’ve coached, where we beat a team twice in a season, then lost to them the third time for whatever reason; they play better, you’re overconfident or you think you’re going to win, and that scares me. If we play well, we can beat them, but it still worries me.”

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