LA JOLLA, Calif. - Katie Condon put away a career-high 22 kills, but the 10th-ranked UCSD women's volleyball team came up short in its comeback bid and suffered its first loss of the season Saturday, a heartbreaking 3-2 defeat at RIMAC Arena against Chico State.
Scores in the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) match were 31-29, 25-20, 23-25, 18-25 and 15-11. The loss ended the Tritons' perfect season and snapped their nine-match win streak, putting their overall record at 9-1 with a CCAA mark of 5-1. The Wildcats improved to 9-3 and 4-2.
For the first time this season, UCSD was out-hit as Chico State posted a .231 (72-24-208) attack percentage to the Tritons' .205 (69-27-205).
"We made too many costly errors in critical situations," said UCSD head coach Ricci Luyties. "We were out of system and couldn't consistently get anything going."
After losing the first two sets, the Tritons stormed back and rallied to take sets three and four, forcing a fifth and deciding frame for the first time this year. However, UCSD hit .071 (7-5-28) in the fifth, its lowest attack percentage of the night.
Condon added 16 digs, two assists, two aces and two blocks and finished with a career-high 25 points. Roxanne Brunsting recorded a triple-double, the first by any Triton this season, with 10 kills, 30 assists and 16 digs while Julia Freidenberg had 10 kills and six blocks from the middle. Hillary Williamson had 15 kills and 23 digs, one short of her career-high.
The Wildcats were led by Makenzie Snyder, who had a match-high 23 kills.
"If you're not firing on all cylinders, it's going to be tough to beat a good team," said Luyties. "We showed some resilience to be able to come back from two down, but we just didn't do what we needed to do to put the match away."
The opening set was tight the whole way through as neither team ever had more than a three-point lead. Down 24-21, the Tritons shook off three set points with kills by Williamson and Freidenberg and a Wildcat attack error. It was tied for the 16th and final time at 29-29 before back-to-back kills gave the set to Chico. UCSD had three set points turned aside during the final stretch, two of those due to kills by Jessica Leek.
Chico State upped its game in the second set, improving from a .283 (19-4-53) attack percentage in the first to a match-high .359 (17-3-39). Conversely, UCSD dropped from a .236 (21-8-55) down to a .150 (11-5-40). With the Wildcats leading by five at 13-8, the Tritons won five of the next six points to get back in the set, down by just one at 14-13. However, the favor was returned as CSUC collected four of the next five points to take a 18-14 lead and shut the door on the set.
Following the break, the Tritons came out strong to start the third set, taking a 5-1 lead behind kills from four different players and blocks by Williamson and Natasha Wilroy. The Wildcats eventually closed the gap and then took the lead several times, the last at 22-21. UCSD wasn't going down without a fight as it scored four of the next five points to win the set. Condon had two kills while Lauren Demos recorded a kill and a block in the flurry.
Set four was close until the Tritons ran off four consecutive points to go up by a score of 16-11. The Wildcats could never recover and hit .073 (11-8-41) in the set, their lowest of the match.
It was a battle early on in the fifth set. Chico won the first point, but UCSD won the next two on Brunsting and Williamson kills. The next four points were split, with the Wildcats winning the first two. With UCSD leading 4-3, Chico State had a three-point run that put it in front for good. A couple of more runs led to a commanding 14-7 lead for the Wildcats, but the Tritons made it interesting by scoring four unanswered points to get back within three at 14-11. Brunsting was instrumental in the mini-comeback with a kill and two blocks. Freidenberg was also credited with two blocks. Leek had the final kill of the match to give Chico State its fifth win over its last six matches.
After improving to 9-0 with a sweep over Cal State Stanislaus Friday, UCSD was looking to go 10-0 for the first time in the program's history.
The Tritons play on the road at Humboldt State and Sonoma State before hosting No. 3 Cal State San Bernardino on Oct. 5 at 7 p.m. UCSD students are admitted free to all home matches with a valid ID.
- UCSDtritons.com -