The Seawolves went undefeated in four games this past weekend as they hosted the 2013 Seawolf Spike Tournament.
Featuring competitive teams like Chico State and #12 Western Washington, the tournament brought out the best in the Seawolves as they brought their overall record to 7-1.
“I really thought Hawai’i Pacific and Western Washington were difficult opponents, so I was looking to measure ourselves against them and see where we stack up,” said Head Coach Bear Grassl, a Sonoma State alumnus starting his 12th year with the Seawolves. “Our girls worked hard, played well, and showed a lot of composure out there this weekend.”
Dominican was unable to get more than 14 points in any of the three matches as pristine passing and nine kills each from outside-hitters Madelyn Densberger and Caylie Seitz propelled the Seawolves to their first victory of the tournament.
“It was a huge team effort,” said Seitz. “We don’t have to rely on any one player showing up because we have so many different threats that it takes all of us to win.”
After totaling 39 kills in 102 attacks in the first game, the Seawolves turned up the intensity even further as they smashed the ball into the ground 47 times in 130 total attacks against Hawai’i Pacific.
Densberger and Regan Richert racked up 11 kills apiece while Kelsey Hull tallied 10 of her own, with the group combining for 32 of the team’s 47 kills.
Nicole Gragnola played an essential role in both of the team’s victories—rather, all of the team’s victories—as she dug out 14 attacks in the first game and 22 in the second. She would later amass a whopping 29 digs in the Washington game, and another 14 in the Montana State game.
After a quick pair of sweeps to start the tournament on Friday night, the Seawolves couldn’t wait to get back on the court against Western Washington Vikings in what they believed was the biggest game of the tournament.
“We’d lost to them last year in the Seawolf Spike and they took us out of the playoffs, so everyone was just really amped up in terms of energy,” said Densberger.
The Seawolves suffered their first and only set-defeat (games are decided on a best of 5-set series) of the tournament in the first set, but quickly turned it around as they stole the next three to deal Western Washington their first loss of the year.
“We communicated really well, our offense was really in sync for most of the day which really helped,” said Densberger. “We were really consistent and it just went well for us today.”
The gratifying victory would not have been possible if not for setters Devin Shaver and Hayley Ross, who tallied 32 and 23 assists respectively in a game where three matches were decided by five points or fewer.
The main benefactors of such solid setting were Seitz and Densberger, who continued to impress with a combined 31 kills. However, Hull, Richert, and Ashley Robinson were equally impressive with each player racking up 10 kills.
“Our setters were amazing today, they really carried the team,” said Densberger.
After an exhilarating 3-1 victory over Western Washington, the team finished with a quick and clean sweep of the Montana State Billings.
Densberger (11), Seitz (11), and Hull (13) combined for 35 kills in the game, assisted by Ross (28) and Shaver (15).
Despite the third game being a lot closer than it needed to be, the Seawolves finished the job with a 25-22 game 3 win to put their record at 7-1 going into the season.
“It’s a really good way to start, but we have to stay humble and work hard every game,” said Richert. “Our conference is very tough and every match is just a cat fight.”
The Seawolves will start their actual season against Cal State Bernardino Coyotes on Friday at 7 p.m. in the Wolves’ Den.
“We are aware of how good the teams in the conference are and even though we’ve got ourselves off to a good start, you’re only as good as your next match, and the teams we have to play are really good,” said Grassl. “We have to be focused and we need to be ready.”