After playing hard at the USF Invitational at Piper Park in Larkspur, the Dons traveled south for their next tournament. They returned to the sand to co-host the Santa Cruz Invitational along with Santa Clara University. The invitational featured six different teams, five from California as well as the University of Hawaii.
Team pool play action started on Saturday at 9 a.m. with the Dons pooled with the Rainbows and Cal-State Bakersfield, while Cal Berkeley, Santa Clara and Cal Poly made up the other pool. The top two teams from each of the pools advanced to the single elimination round of the bracket. Beginning Saturday, the Dons had played against three teams and the outcome of their matches was finalized with two losses and one win. The Dons had first faced off against CSU and fell with a final score of 4-1. Second in the pooled play were the Dons against Hawaii who they lost to by a score of 5-1. In the fifth place match, the Dons went up against Cal Poly and came out victorious defeating them by a score of 4-1 and bringing an end to Saturday’s matches.
The following day, the matches for the Invitational took on more of a doubles flair. Each doubles pair was placed into either the 1 and 2 bracket, the 3 and 4 bracket, or the 5 bracket. The USF pair of senior Valentina Zaloznik and junior Courtney Sabahi were placed in the 1 bracket and the pair of freshman Jessica Gaffney and junior Sara Staengle were placed in the 2 bracket. In the 3’s and 4’s bracket, USF players freshman Oluoma Okaro and junior Jessica Keenan played at the 3 while sophomore Katarina Pilepic and sophomore Kiara McKibben filled in at the 4 for the Dons. Finally in the 5 bracket USF had the pair of sophomore Inbar Vinarsky and senior Anja Segota.
Zaloznik and Sabahi automatically progressed to the next round where they faced Santa Clara’s Nikki Hess and Kirsten Mead who were just coming off a victory against Bakersfield’s Sydney Haynes and Danika Youngblood. The Don double handled the pair from SCU extremely well, beating them in two sets 21-9, 21-18. Sadly the pair was defeated in the semifinals by the University of Hawaii pair of Taylor and Tiegs 21-7, 21-8.
Gaffney and Stengle did not progress immediately to the quarterfinals and instead had to defeat the Cal duo of Cole and Lunt to earn their spot there. They managed to come out on top but it took them three hard-fought rounds to do it, winning 19-21, 21-17, 15-9. The duo was not as lucky in their quarterfinals match however, losing to the SCU pair of Clayton and Rottman 21-17, 21-14.
In the 3 and 4 bracket both USF doubles lost in the first match they played. McKibben and Pilepic lost to Cal’s Eshoo and Regalia in the first round 21-18, 21-14. Keenan and Okaro were defeated by Bakersfield’s Perrens and Sawyer in the quarterfinals 21-17, 21-17. In the 5’s bracket Inbar Vinarsky and Anja Segota played well in the quarterfinals but were defeated in the quarters by Chow and Zalopany of Hawaii 21-10, 21-12.
Next up for the Dons will be the Sacramento State Invitational from April 3rd to 4th in Sacramento. The Invitational begins at 2pm on the 3rd.
Photo Credits: Dons Athletics