This week, the UC San Diego women’s volleyball team lost 3–0 in a challenging match against California State University, San Bernardino. After getting steamrolled 12–25 in the first set, the Tritons demonstrated their mettle by grinding through a long second set before losing 26–28. But despite the close score in the second, UCSD came no closer in the third, dropping the final set 20–25.
Head coach Ricci Luyties came out of the game disappointed with the result, but not defeated. “We’ve had a couple of weeks that have been up and down,” he said.“We knew it was going to be a lot of tough games in a row so I was hoping to win all of them, but we knew that they were going to be tough to win.”
Luyties is experimenting with new lineups and making use of the entire roster. Looking to next week, Luyties commented, “We’ve switched around the lineup quite a bit, so there’s always possibilities for other things to happen.” Junior Emily Hubbard seems to have supplanted senior Alyson Penrose as the team’s starting libero. At the starting libero position, Hubbard led the team with 13 digs. Penrose was still rotated into the game to serve. Luyties also made a point to involve the team’s younger talent for significant portions of the game. Freshman outside hitters Sarah Rieble, Marin Willick, and Josie Collier all recorded time in the loss. The three freshmen combined for 31 attempts, 8 errors, and 5 kills.
Despite the loss, the Tritons still have a path, albeit challenging, to a playoff bid. To qualify for the postseason, UCSD would need to place at least second in the California Collegiate Athletic Association South Division. With the most recent loss against San Bernardino State, UCSD drops to fourth place in CCAA South Division, but the Tritons are not far behind the three teams ahead of them.
It is unlikely the Tritons make a run for the top spot in the division — San Bernardino State is in solid possession of first place with an undefeated 16–0 record (9–0 in conference play) — but UCSD does have a shot to get into second and making it into the postseason.
Third place California State University, San Marcos is tied with UCSD in conference play at 5–4. With one more conference win, the Tritons would find themselves in third place. California State University, Los Angeles, who the Tritons were swept by earlier this week, currently sit in second place. Right now, UCSD (5–4) only trails CSULA (6–1) by one conference win.
With only eight regular-season games left, the final leg of the season is incredibly important if the Tritons want to contend for a championship. In the final four games of the season, the Tritons will play conference rivals San Marcos State twice and CSULA once and jockey for a playoff spot. Those late-season matchups could decide who makes it into the playoffs and who ends their 2019 season early.
Next week, the Tritons face off against California State University, Chico and California State University, Stanislaus in back-to-back home games for homecoming weekend on Friday and Saturday night.