Volleyball: Dons Outdueled By Saint Mary’s and Pacific

It was a rough week for the Dons, who dropped a pair of road matches against Saint Mary’s and Pacific to fall to 11-15 (7-9 WCC) on the season. On Saturday, the Dons had difficulty matching the Gaels’  offensive firepower, losing in straight sets at McKeon Pavilion.

The Dons hung tight in the first set, and were tied with St. Mary’s at 16-16 before the Gaels took control to take the set 25-20.

USF got off to a quick start in the second set, taking the lead 6-4 on a kill from freshman outside hitter Katarina Pilepic. The match was later tied at 11-11 before a 7-1 put the Gaels in the driver’s seat. Saint Mary’s (15-9, 11-5) won the set 25-17 and continued to shut down the Dons in the third set, which they took by the same score.

Junior middle blocker Valentina Zaloznik finished with a team-high eight kills for San Francisco, and senior setter Mackenzie Murtagh led the Dons with 17 assists. In the match, the Dons had just 29 total kills compared to 46 for Saint Mary’s.

Thursday’s Nov. 14 game in Stockton, Calif. also saw the Dons struggle offensively against the Pacific

Tigers.The Dons won the first set 25-23 in a close set that featured 15 ties. With the two teams locked at 23, kills from senior outside hitter Malina Terrell and Pilepic gave the Dons a 1-0 lead.

Pacific kept its composure despite the early deficit, and took the second set 25-20 after claiming the lead for good at 9-8. In the crucial third set, the Dons fell flat, and Pacific led all the way to emerge with a 25-18 win.

In the fourth set, dominant play from Pacific’s Gillian Howard put the Tigers ahead 17-9 and had them smelling victory. However, the Dons still had some fight left in them, and a USF comeback brought the score to 21-18. Junior middle blocker Valentina Zaloznik kept the Dons alive with a much-needed kill that got them within 24-22, but Pacific (12-15, 5-11) secured the final point on the next play, and the Tigers walked off the court with a 3-1 win.

The Dons have two games left in their season, both of them home matches. USF plays Pepperdine on Thursday, Nov. 21 at 7:00 p.m., and finishes up the year with a match against Loyola Marymount on Saturday, Nov. 23 at 1:00 p.m.

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