Conor McDermott Welch
The Dons continued their hot start to the 2014 campaign this weekend at the Mizuno Invitational at Long Beach State, which took place from Sept. 5-6. After winning the San Francisco Invitational with a win over Georgia last week, the Dons made it all the way to the final match before losing 3-1 to host Long Beach State.
In the tournament finale on Sept. 6, the Dons were prepared for the challenge and remained competitive. Though they lost the first two sets 25-19, 25-21, they responded with a gutsy 25-23 third-set victory. However, they ran out of gas in the fourth set, losing 25-13 and dropping the match 3-1. The loss was the Dons’ first of the season, bringing them to a record of 5-1, the best start for the team since 2005.
Earlier in the day, the Dons shutout the Army Black Knights 3-0 to advance to the championship game. Senior middle blocker Valentina Zaloznik, sophomore opposite hitter Katarina Pilepic, and senior outside hitter Anja Segota all registered 10 kills on the game for the Dons.
USF started off the tournament on Friday with a 3-1 win over Campbell. The Dons won the last two sets 25-19, 25-21 after Campbell tied the match in the second set. Zaloznik accumulated 15 kills on the night, and sophomore setter Kiara McKibben had 47 assists for San Francisco.
The all-tournament team included both Zaloznik and Mckibben. Mckibben racked up 106 assists and 25 digs throughout the weekend, while Zaloznik collected 30 kills, 12 blocks and six aces over the two days of competition.
The Dons will journey to the Outrigger Hotels and Resorts Volleyball Challenge in Honolulu, Hawaii next week, where they will meet UCLA on Thursday, Sept. 11 at 8:00 p.m.