Volleyball team splits weekend at home

Following nearly two weeks out of commission and away from the sport, the juggernaut that is the Sonoma State University women’s volleyball team returned to the hardwood against in-conference foe UC San Diego, securing a hard-fought 3-1 victory in four electrifying sets at the ‘Wolves Den. The match concluded with scores of 28-26, 15-25, 25-11, and 25-20.

The four-set triumph improved Sonoma State’s overall record to 15-4, along with a 9-1 record in conference (CCAA) play. The defeat drops the tenacious Tritons to 14-5 overall and 8-3 in divisional action.

On the evening, Sonoma State led in nearly all statistical categories, out-dueling UCSD in kills (59), assists (57), hitting percentage (.204), and aces (five). The Tritons managed to compile two fewer errors (23) and two extra blocks (eight) than the Seawolves, but it wasn’t enough to stymie Sonoma State’s attack and gritty defensive effort.

Across four sets, the three-headed monster of senior middle blocker Kelsey McIntire, sophomore outside hitter Caiti Wiesner, and Calan Seitz led the charge on offense with 41 kills between the three of them. McIntire dropped a game-high 15 kills on the evening, while Wiesner and Seitz totaled 13 kills each. On defense, Megan Bohorquez played a brilliant game as a digging wizard – adding 18 digs to her now 348 digs on the season.

Although set back by a 13-day layoff due to the raging wildfires across Sonoma County, the Seawolves appeared poised and had minimal delay getting back into the swing of things. 

“Being away wasn’t nearly as tough as I was expecting,” McIntire said. “Most of us were really itching to get back into the gym and compete again.”

In the opening set, both teams came off the starting block with unparalleled energy, resiliency, and ferocity – proving why other players consider them a duo of powerhouse teams within the conference.

Both squads played one another nearly point-for-point for the majority of the set – with the difference being the Tritons committed three more errors (eight) than that of the Seawolves (five). The set’s intensity reached its boiling point following a Triton attack error that notched the score at 25 points each.

From that moment forward, the game would get interesting. The Tritons would take a 26-25 lead on a kill by senior Amanda Colla. The Seawolves didn’t roll over though, replying with a kill of their own by Seitz and then a well-placed service ace courtesy of Ashleigh Phelps – providing Sonoma State with a chance to clinch the set with a single point.

The final sequence would get a bit wild, with both teams bashing missiles back-and-forth for what seemed like an eternity. Spike after spike, floater after floater, dig after dig, and block after block sent bodies from both teams soaring and sliding from all angles of the court. The marathon would finally reach an end via attack error by UC San Diego, earning the Seawolves a 28-26 first-set victory.

“The games that go back-and-forth like that are the most fun and intense,” McIntire said. “Winning that set really put the momentum in our favor and gave us the confidence we needed to win the match.”

In the subsequent set, a bit of a different – and somewhat uncharacteristic – tune announced itself, as the Seawolves struggled mightily to build on their strong opening act. During the set, the Tritons poured it on, going on multiple runs of five or more without surrendering the lead once they obtained it. This made it awfully difficult for the Seawolves to gain any sort of traction over the course of the frame, and would ultimately result in a 25-15 Triton win. For Sonoma State, a combination of errors (nine) and a palty hitting percentage (.064) proved to be the difference in their second-set defeat.

In the third set, Sonoma State returned from the break looking to strike with a vengeance – and did it ever. Knotted at six points apiece, the set seemed as if it would be tightly contested, similar to that of the action-packed opening set where both teams traded heart-stopping blows. 

This would not be the case though, as Sonoma State dashed away with the set thanks to two separate scoring streaks of seven points or more. To close the set, the Seawolves put on a clinic, capping the frame with an eight point run – giving Sonoma State the 25-11 edge.

The duo of Wiesner and McIntire spearheaded the Seawolf attack, combining for 11 kills. Although the Seawolves completed the set with an elevated hitting percentage (.323), the defense held the Tritons to a miniscule -.034 hitting percentage, one of the lowest percentages of the season for UCSD.

Then came the pivotal fourth and final set. This set turned out like a ping-pong match, with both teams exchanging leads on multiple occasions. With the score tied at 18-18, an attack error by UC San Diego’s Emily Kimball all but shut the door for a potential fifth set to take place. From there, Sonoma State never looked back, outscoring the Tritons 7-2 in the final nine points. A service ace courtesy of Wiesner capped off the set 25-20 and clinched the match, giving the Seawolves a vintage 3-1 victory.

“We were really pumped for this match against UCSD – since they’re a big name in our conference,” McIntire said. “With that said, it’s so easy to get excited and ready for a match like that.”

While Friday’s tough matchup resulted in a win, a different story presented itself Saturday, with Sonoma State falling to Cal State San Marcos by a final score of 3-1. The final tallies were 25-19, 22-25, 20-25, and 18-25 in favor of San Marcos.

The loss drops Sonoma State’s overall record to 15-5, while also leaving them with a still-strong 9-2 conference mark.

On the night, Wiesner led the way in kills, swatting 16 for the game. Two other players, Morgan Annala and McIntire jumped into double-digit figures as well, providing the team with 13 and 10 respectively. 

On defense, Bohorquez once again showed off her digging prowess, notching 25 digs for the game. Courtney Seda – usually known for her ability to assist – also provided 20 digs for her team.

The Cougars – a team known for their tough wall-like defense – slowed down the Seawolf offense, accumulating 12 blocks and held their hitting percentage to a low .170 mark. 

Following the loss, Sonoma State will look to bounce back in a road tilt with Cal State Dominguez Hills at 7 p.m on Friday.  

“Heading into our upcoming matches, the main thing we need to work on is our composure,” said McIntire. “We need to stay competitive throughout our matches, even when we’re feeling tired.”