San Francisco Dons volleyball dominated Loyola Marymount University with a 25-19, 25-15, 25-19 sweep last Thursday night, only to lose their perfect home record to the No. 19 Pepperdine Waves on Saturday.
The Dons defeated LMU (10-9, 3-3 WCC) with ease and confidence, shutting down the Lions offense and responding to their opponent’s scrappy defense with some spectacular defense of their own.
“The team played confidently, even though I think offensively we weren’t very good today, we backed it up with defense, with blocking, with timely serving and great passing,” head coach Gilad Doron said, “you can beat teams in many ways.”
Sophomore middle blocker Malina Terrell set the tone for the match with a solo block for the first point of set one, instantly firing up the home crowd at War Memorial Gym. Terrell went on to lead the team in kills with nine on 13 attempts. The 5’10” native of Richmond, CA hit for a .692 attack percentage, had no errors and chipped in two blocks.
“I thought we did a really, really good job from the very first point,” Doron said. “The energy in the gym helps feed our energy,” junior outside hitter Alycia Cox said of the Dons fans.
Cox recorded an ace, four kills and 10 digs for the Dons, second in digs to freshman libero Rebecca Kopilovitch’s match-high 15. Setter Joan Caloiaro added 10 digs, four kills, two blocks and 29 assists. The 5’11” sophomore’s vicious serving produced four of the team’s six aces.
“As a team, we played as organized as we have in a long time,” Doron said. “I have to give our team a lot of credit, it was fun to watch them, even in the longest rallies that happened in the game, we still enjoyed that part.”
The Dons organized, confident play of Thursday disappeared for the first half of Saturday’s match against West Coast Conference leaders the Pepperdine Waves (13-5, 7-0 WCC). The Dons lost in four sets, 16-25, 18-25, 25-19, 22-25.
“I don’t know if our team got a slow start, or if it was just because Pepperdine played really well,” Doron said.
The Waves of Malibu, CA were very much in charge throughout the first two sets, setting the pace of the game and playing sharp, controlled volleyball. San Francisco struggled to gain composure and relied on frequent substitutions to try to liven things up on their half of the court. The Dons were finally able to put it all together in set three, taking the set 25-19 on a block and a kill by junior middle blocker Hadley Simmons.
“I was really pleased by how we responded in game three, I was pleased with some of the players coming in a stepping up,” Doron said.
Freshman middle blocker Valentina Zaloznik led the team in kills with 14, followed by freshman opposite hitter Vendula Strakova’s 11 kills. Strakova added seven digs.
Sharp volleyball was played by both teams throughout set four, a back-and-forth set that never saw a point spread bigger than two until the final sequence. The Dons reached a 22-20 lead, but were unable to combat Pepperdine’s five point run for the win.
“Pepperdine came and played really well early…they played better than us today, got to give them credit,” Doron said.
San Francisco plays its next match against the Saint Mary’s Gaels on Thursday, Oct. 20 at 7pm in War Memorial Gym.
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