Dons Volleyball Snaps Losing Streak Heading into Final Game Against Powerhouse Pepperdine

by Alex Crook

San Francisco volleyball broke a six-game losing streak this week with home wins over Pacific Northwest teams the University of Portland and Gonzaga University of Spokane, WA. The Dons (15-12, 7-7 WCC) defeated the the Pilots 3-1 last Thursday, Nov. 10 and proceeded to sweep the Gonzaga Bulldogs on Saturday, Nov. 12.

The 26-24, 26-28, 25-23, 25-19 decision over Portland (8-19, 2-12 WCC) was USF’s first win in almost a month. “Every game is going to be a battle for us,” head coach Gilad Doron said, “but we find a way to finish strong. That was a characteristic of earlier in the year, and I’m happy that we were able to do it today and get back into it.”

The San Francisco offense came through with a vengeance Thursday, with four Dons recording double-digit kills. The team hit .276, while the team leader in kills, junior outside hitter Alycia Cox, hit .341 and fellow outside hitter junior Jocelyn Levig recorded .400 attacking. Cox put down 17 kills, Levig finished with 16, freshman middle blocker Valentina Zaloznik added 12 more and sophomore middle blocker Malina Terrell chipped in 10 kills. Levig also racked up three solo blocks, three aces and 10 digs.

“At key moments, different players made big plays,” Doron said. “When we pull through and make big plays and play heads up, we give ourselves more chances and I was happy to see that today.”

The game was tense and close in score throughout with 41 recorded tie scores and 14 lead changes. Freshman libero Rebecca Kopilovitch was the key to San Francisco’s defense, with team-high 24 digs.

“Before we would get frustrated, today we stayed together. I think that’s the key thing, we stay together,” Doron said.

The Dons stayed together well for their next match, a 25-18, 25-23, 26-24 sweep over Gonzaga (7-9, 1-14 WCC). It was the last regular season game the Dons will play in War Memorial Gym this year.

Key hitting by San Francisco made the difference in the game, with USF swinging for .289 to the Bulldogs .214. Both teams racked up 54 digs and two aces, while the Zags snagged a 6-5 blocking advantage.

Sophomore middle blocker Malina Terrell and Zaloznik led the team offensively, with 12 and 11 kills respectively, a combined three blocks and an ace by Terrell. Kopilovitch once again held the team lead in digs with 19.

Early in the match the Bulldogs seemed to have an edge in energy anmomentum, but that ended with the Dons late set run for the win in the first set. Timely hitting by Cox gave the Dons the advantage in set two, while Terrell came through strong in set three, ending the game with a vicious kill. Cox totaled nine kills, while junior middle blocker Hadley Simmons and Levig each chipped in five. The win completed a series sweep against Gonzaga.

The Dons finish up West Coast Conference regular season play against No. 14 Pepperdine on Thursday, Nov. 17 at the Wavesʼ Firestone Fieldhouse in Malibu at 7:00pm.

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