It’s a prideful chant; a chant of rivalry between the north and the south, and for perhaps the first time, joined by many Los Angeles native Sonoma State students: “Beat LA” It could be heard from outside the Wolves’ Den all night as the women’s volleyball team threw down in a 3-1 victory against Cal State Los Angeles in front of the 480 screaming and chanting fans in attendance.
The Seawolves came out swinging, powering passed the Golden Eagles 25-15 in the first of what would turn out to be four matches.
For the only time in the game, Sonoma was down 9-11 before getting behind Devin Shaver, who served up five straight points as the Seawolves got behind her with stellar defense and powerful offense, giving them a good lead.
The Seawolves would end up winning the set 25-21 as outside hitter Caylie Seitz notched five kills as she continued to heat up in each consecutive set in what would turn out to be a career-setting night with 21 kills.
The third game didn’t quite go as planned, but it very well could have. In a set where the team was losing 12-21 towards the end of the game and could have easily just taken the loss to get to the fourth game, the Seawolves battled back to come within four points of LA.
Down to match point at 15-24, it was outside hitter Regan Richert’s turn to serve with the game on the line: one missed serve and the game was over. She powered five consecutive serves over the net to keep her team in the game, but no one could stop a kill from LA’s Bethanee Boggs and what ended up as a 25-21 loss.
With a 2-1 lead and only one more match to win, the Seawolves came off their nail-biting comeback of a third set fired up.
The Seawolves sprung ahead to a 8-2 lead in the early stages with a solid overall team effort with a variety of players contributing, including kills from just about every hitter: Madelyn Densberger, Rachel Andrews, Kelsey Hull, Seitz, and Richert.
“Our team has so many good hitters,” said Nicole Gragnola, the team’s libero. “During practice we’re so used to it that we’re really prepared for the games because we’re used to having some of the best hitters hitting against us every day.”
In simple terms, the Golden Eagles just couldn’t get any momentum started at any point of the set, and it seemed whenever they did, the Seawolves had an answer for it—especially Seitz, who blasted seven kills in the final match of the game, assisted by setters Hayley Ross and Devin Shaver, who each recorded 23 assists apiece on the night.
“They had a really hard time stopping Caylie and on top of that we got a nice production on a balanced group of people offensively,” said Head Coach Bear Grassl.
However, with as much power as the 480 in attendance witnessed, the game really came down to passing and setting up attacks. Again, Ross and Shaver split 46 assists evenly–that’s nearly two games worth of points assisted from just setting.
“I definitely have to thank the passers, and our setters Hayley Ross and Devin,” said Seitz. “We couldn’t do it without them.”
Gragnola was also terrific, recording 19 digs overall in the match to keep the play going and give her setters a chance to set up attacks.
“That’s what these games all boil down to: do you pass well or do you not pass well?” said Grassl. “If you do pass well, you get to run your offense and you’re pretty hard to deal with.”
After sweeping Cal State Dominguez Hills on Saturday 3-0, the Seawolves (now 12-3 CCAA, 19-4 overall) are currently tied for third place with UC San Diego (12-3, 20-3) in the CCAA standings, both behind Cal State San Bernardino (14-1, 18-5).
The team will travel to San Francisco State to play the Gators in the first of five consecutive away games in the next two weeks.