With the USF Lady Dons volleyball season nearing a close, they hosted back to back West Coast Conference matchups this past week. Their obvious mindset was to improve on their 1-8 conference record, knowing they would have to face two tough teams first. On Nov. 4 they faced the Portland Pilots, who took the Dons to a very exciting five set match the first time these two teams met this season.
Portland had a small lead for the majority of the set until the Dons tied it up at 11. The tie didn’t hold up for long as the Pilots took the lead right back and the Dons took a timeout down 16-12. USF put forward a great effort for a comeback as they got very close, but were never able to jump on top of the Pilots. The Dons took a timeout down 22-18 to try to come up with a way to finish the set strong, but ended up losing 25-21. USF entered the second set motivated to tie the match 1-1 and played with the same determination as they jumped out to a quick 11-5 lead. The Pilots regained composure to shorten the lead, but USF stayed on top forcing Portland to take a timeout down 20-14. Though the Dons had trouble closing out the set, they ended up taking it 25-20.
When the third set started, USF seemed completely out of sync as they found themselves down six points very quickly when Coach Doron took a timeout to settle down the girls. He certainly re-energized them as they tied it at 14 and then took the lead. The Pilots stormed right back to take the lead at 21-20 and won a close one, 25-23. With the Dons on their heels, they would have to play a very tough set to force another exciting fifth set and the Lady Dons did just that. This set was back and forth throughout with 14 tie scores and four lead changes; with back-to-back kills, the Dons took the very intense set, 28-26.
With the final set at hand, each team knew that it was win or go home, but the Dons couldn’t capitalize on their home court advantage. They fell behind early, committed many errors and lost the set 15-10, falling to 1-9 in the conference. Freshman Joan Caloiaro had her third career triple-double with a career high 16 kills, 38 assists and 10 digs. Alycia Cox had her third double-double with 12 kills and a career high 25 digs. Malina Terrell had a team high 17 kills and Leanna Ludes had an impressive 22 assists and 10 digs. Though all of these individual accomplishments were attained, the team put forward only a .206 hitting percentage. After the game, Coach Doron said that he felt that the team played well at times, but that they found themselves coming from behind and weren’t able to finish. He also said that “a lot of people stepped up today and having these five game matches will give us experience, but we have too many unforced errors.”
Coach Doron said that Portland played really well, having four players in double figures as well as having a high hitting percentage, but now it was time to get ready for Gonzaga who would visit on Saturday. The Dons were hoping they could get their second WCC win as the first time they faced the Bulldogs, USF won 3-0.
Freshman Malina Terrell was on her “A” game as she had nine kills in the first set alone. It wasn’t a blowout, but the Dons were more dominant as they took the set 25-19. The second set was a close one until the score was tied at 13. USF then went on a 9-1 run, ended up running away with this set 25-18 and the Dons entered halftime with a 2-0 set lead.
The third set wasn’t as well played for the Dons as the Bulldogs played extremely well, putting up a .452 hitting percentage in this set, winning 25-21 and forcing a fourth set. USF came out strong in the fourth set. They hardly had any errors in this set, while Malina Terrell had another nine kill performance and the Dons earned their second conference win after taking the fourth set 25-18. Terrell had a career-high 26 kills and a .382 hitting percentage, and Hadley Simmons had 10 kills of her own with a career-high 6 blocks. Joan Caloiaro had her 12th double-double of the season as she had 13 kills and 51 assists, also with 7 digs. Senior Sarah Mandala had 10 kills and 10 digs of her own also serving up 3 aces.
Freshman star Caloiaro feels that with the season coming to an end, the team has to keep working hard in practice and keep up what they’re doing and the wins will keep coming. The Dons have only three games left as they travel to Saint Mary’s on Thursday, San Diego on Saturday and host their season finale against Santa Clara on Nov. 19th with hopes of finishing off their season as strong as possible.
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