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The UCSD Guardian

The Student News Site of University of California - San Diego

The UCSD Guardian

The Student News Site of University of California - San Diego

The UCSD Guardian

Tritons Overcome Two-Set Deficit in Thrilling Win

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Image by Christina Bumann for The UCSD Guardian

Tactical changes, a late-game resurgence, and some NCAA-regulation trash talk from the pep band pushed the UC San Diego women’s volleyball team (11-8, 3-4 Big West) to a nail-biting 19-25, 12-25, 25-18, 25-14, 15-12 comeback victory over rivals UC Riverside (4-15, 3-4 Big West) on Friday night. 

 

The do-or-die fifth set was a battle, with tight 6-6, 11-10, and 14-13 score lines along the way — until outside hitter Ava McInnes took charge, slamming down consecutive kills and service aces to widen the Triton lead by four. A kill by outside hitter Sabire Karacaova and a Highlander attacking error closed out the set at 25-18, sealing UCSD’s third conference win of the season.

 

The Tritons came out uncharacteristically lax in the opening set, gifting the Highlanders 10 points in the first set via various attacking and service errors. Such a performance warranted a desperate “Get serious!” shout from the stands in a series that ended 25-19 in favor of UC Riverside.

 

UCSD contributed 5 more points to UC Riverside’s scoresheet in the second set. Despite a brief trio of points suggesting an impending surge, UC Riverside retained its composure to claim a 25-12 set win, going up 2-0.

 

“We came out with some big goals and unfortunately I feel like we were very low energy the first two sets, definitely not UC San Diego volleyball,” McInnes said in a post-game interview with The UCSD Guardian. “But as soon as we came together as a team after set two and were like, ‘This isn’t us,’ … that was the switch.”

 

UCSD hit its stride just in time to avoid a sweep, surging in the third set with 13 kills, 3 blocks, and a hitting percentage of .367 — more than double UC Riverside’s .148. Setter Nevada Knowles was vital to the team’s resurgence, playing a supporting role with perimeter passes perfectly poised for kills. Her efforts resulted in 40 assists, as well as eight point-saving digs. Libero Natalie Repetti, who led the team with 13 digs, had a resurgence of her own, executing several dives to keep the ball afloat in the later sets to retain the Triton’s momentum.

 

As UCSD picked up the pace in the fourth set, UC Riverside began to stumble. Two errors gave way to a 4-0 lead for the Tritons, who eventually leveraged that advantage to claim a 25-14 set victory. McInnes added 6 more kills to her spiking spree while middle blocker Jasmine Saran picked up 4 kills; Saran finished with 11 kills. With pressure mounting, the Highlanders were coaxed into 6 more errors.

 

UCSD’s momentum reversal was best explained by Ava McInnes: “In the beginning, we weren’t doing what we had prepared to do … later on, we started to do our role and really pay attention to the scouting report, and I think that made [a] world’s difference.”

 

The fifth and final set came down to the wire with both sides putting everything into their last chance at victory. Still, the Highlanders gave up 4 points from attack errors. This crack was capitalized upon by outsider hitter Katie Rapp, who racked up four of her 7 kills in the fifth set, the final of which would hand UCSD its third straight conference win. 

 

“Credit to my team, credit to my setter, you know, they make it happen,” McInnes said, reacting to the fifth set. “I think, even for me, I started off slow and I was like ‘Okay, I gotta light a fire under it, I’m just gonna swing as hard as I can.’”

 

UCSD sat in an opportune spot in the Big West table, just under UC Davis, who they played Saturday night. 

 

“We’re excited for Davis,” McInnes said. “Their preseason rankings [were] ahead of us, so we’re ready coming in as the underdogs.”

 

Unfortunately, the Tritons could not retain the energy they held in the latter sets of their UC Riverside matchup, falling to the Aggies 25-18, 25-18, 22-25, 25-22 to remain in sixth place.

 

UCSD plays its next match this Thursday at Cal State Fullerton. Following three respectable seasons, the Titans have struggled to settle into a groove this year, having only won one of their 15 games so far. UCSD boasts a perfect 4-0 record against Fullerton, with the two side’s last meeting in November ending in a 3-1 victory.

 

Tritons are expected to pour into Liontree Arena on Saturday for this year’s Blue & Gold Rivalry Match against UC Irvine. UCSD will endeavor to continue its hot streak with another victory against the Anteaters.

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About the Contributor
Senji Torrey, Contributing Writer
Senji is a third-year transfer student majoring in Communication. With three years of grueling high school newspaper experience under his belt, Senji is ready for his big break down in SD!
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