Triton Season Ends in San Bernardino

    The UCSD Women’s Volleyball team had its season ended on Friday by Cal State San Bernardino, which made a strong case for its bid for a first-ever national title.

    The Coyotes — ranked sixth nationally and first in the West Region — took down the Tritons in the second round of the NCAA Division II Tournament with set scores of 25-14, 25-11 and 25-13.

    “They don’t really have any weaknesses; every position hits well, and there’s nothing you can key in on,” head coach Ricci Luyties said. “Obviously, they are a great team. I don’t think we played our best match, but we fought the whole way.”

    The Coyotes kept the Tritons on their heels for the first two sets, outhitting and outblocking UCSD by a heavy margin. The Tritons showed some life in the third set, rattling off four-point and five-point runs to stay in the game. Freshman Brittany Lombardi saw her first action of the match during the four-point run, contributing two service aces.

    The Tritons were down 19-14 late in the set and came back to tie the scores at 19. With the score tied  at 23, San Bernardino won a point after a long rally, and a Triton service error ended the match.

    Junior Katie Condon had a match-high 10 kills for the Tritons, while junior Hilary Williamson and sophomore Julia Friedenburg had five apiece. As a team, the Tritons hit just .044 for the match while the Coyotes hit .330.

    Five Coyote players racked up at least seven kills each, including seven by recently named CCAA Player of the Year Samantha Middleborn.

    Friedenburg, Condon and junior Roxy Brunsting were named to the All-CCAA first team this season.

    UCSD finished its season 19-9, with three of the losses from matches against San Bernardino. The Coyotes improved to 27-2 on the season, and went on to sweep Seattle Pacific on Saturday for the West Region title.

    UCSD qualified for the NCAA tournament for the fifth consecutive year, and the program has been in the tournament 10 of the 11 years it has been in Division II. But this year’s run was more trying for the Tritons, as the team suffered a five-match losing streak in September, the program’s worst since 1992.

    “We still had high expectations once we got over that hump,” Luyties said. “It’s a little disappointing, but I’m happy with the whole season. Overall — getting to the tournament, winning a match — it’s satisfying, but it still leaves an emptiness inside that’s hard to get rid of.”

    On Sept. 25, the Tritons had an overall record of 5-6 and were just 2-5 in the CCAA. But the team regrouped to win 15 of its last 17 matches, only losing to San Bernardino. The Tritons beat Sonoma State in the first round of the NCAA tournament on Thursday.

    After the rough start, the Tritons seemed to come together under their first-year head coach.

    “We used a lot of people in a lot of different ways,” Luyties said. “Throughout the season there was a lot of learning what to do with people, and learning what they could do and couldn’t do. Overall, we got better as the season went on, so I’m happy about that. But as coach, you always want to see your team play a great game in the last match, and when you don’t play a great game it’s a little disappointing.”

    Readers can contact Liam Rose at [email protected].


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