Tag Archives: volleyball

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.

Volleyball: Dons Dealt Losses By WCC Powerhouses San Diego and Brigham Young

USF hosted two ranked teams this past week at War Memorial Gym. The Dons suffered a narrow 3-2 defeat against No. 8 San Diego on Saturday afternoon, and were swept 3-0 by No. 21 Brigham Young two days earlier. Following this week’s matches, USF dropped to 11-13 overall and 7-7 in the West Coast Conference (WCC), and are currently tied for fifth place.

The Dons did all they could to upset San Diego (21-3, 13-2 WCC), but fell just short of a win. Led by freshman outside hitter Katarina Pilepic’s 21 kills, USF managed to push the match to a full five sets but was not able to notch the victory in the end.

“Pilepic is a force for us when she is on and we have to use her the most we can,” Head Coach Gilad Doron told USFDons.com. “She stayed positive today and was really on. We needed one more player to step up but San Diego is an incredible team. We are pretty close and if we keep our minds together we’ll be able to beat some teams down the stretch.”

After dropping the first set 25-18, the Dons rallied to win the next two sets and took a 2-1 lead.  In the pivotal fourth set, both teams were evenly matched and the score was held fairly close. However, after USF had built a 21-19 lead, the Toreros came back with five straight points and ultimately took the set 25-23.

In the final and deciding set, the Dons took an early 8-4 lead, putting themselves in position for a huge win. However, it was not meant to be, and San Diego pulled away to win the set 15-10 and clinch the victory. Along with Pilepic’s standout performance, junior middle blocker Valentina Zaloznik and senior outside hitter Malina Terrell added 17 and 12 kills respectively for the Dons.

USF faced BYU on Thursday with hopes of extending its four-game home winning streak. The Dons started out strong in the first set, keeping up with the WCC-leading Cougars early in the game until BYU (20-5, 13-2) went on multiple scoring runs. USF could not respond with points of their own and dropped the first set 25-20.

The second set followed a similar pattern, and going into the third set down 2-0, the Dons were in danger of losing to the Cougars in straight sets. BYU came back from the locker room after halftime extremely strong, and with the help of seven straight points, left USF with no chance of a comeback. The Cougars took the third set 25-8 and sat the Dons down in a 3-0 victory. In the defeat, San Francisco scored a team-high 11 kills from Pilepic along with 14 assists and 12 digs from senior setter Mackenzie Murtagh. USF looks to bounce back from a three-game losing streak when they meet up with the University of the Pacific in Stockton, Calif. on Thursday, Nov. 14.

Malina Terrell (15) and Ester de Vries (5) liked what they saw in the Dons’ four-set victory over Santa Clara. Terrell turned in a stellar performance, collecting 17 kills to help USF secure their third straight win against WCC foes. (Photo courtesy of Dons Athletics)

Volleyball: Dons Top Santa Clara 3-1, Increase Home Winning Streak to Four Games

The season’s longest home stand ended on a high for the Dons, as they proved that they are a force to be reckoned with in the Bay Area. USF completed three straight wins against Bay Area rivals with a 3-1 victory against the Santa Clara Broncos at War Memorial Gym on Friday night. The Dons are now 10-10 on the season and 6-4 in WCC play, good for fourth in the conference.

In addition to besting Saint Mary’s and Pacific last week, USF is now on a four-game home winning streak, its first since the 2009 season.

On Friday, the Dons took the first set 25-22 and also saw senior libero Rebecca Kopilovitch take possession of third place on USF’s all-time dig list with her six digs in the set. She went on to end the game with a match-high 20 digs.

“It’s just fun to play defense and go for everything and frustrate the other teams,” Kopilovitch told USFDons.com after her personal milestone match. “In order to dig we have to have a great block setup and that’s something that we’ve been working on. The girls have been doing a great job of blocking the other team and having the ball go to where it needs to go to make our job on defense much easier.”

USF fans were worried at the start of the second set, when the Broncos jumped ahead quickly and gained a 10-4 lead on the Dons. However, a delay in the game due to a rotation problem proved to be just what USF needed to regroup and stop Santa Clara’s momentum. The Dons eventually took the set 25-19 and were up two sets to none heading into halftime.

‘They definitely had the momentum, but after the delay it gave us a chance to catch our breath and I think that in combination with them being a little bit confused and they lost momentum right there,” associate head coach Ken Ko told USFDons.com. “Before you knew it, it was 10-all and it gave us new life and we really pushed forward and got ahead.”

Santa Clara came back from the break strong and earned a victory in the third set by a score of 25-22, before the Dons put the final nail in the coffin by taking the fourth set 25-17. This victory signaled a season sweep of the Broncos for only the second time in the two schools’ 34-year series history.

Led by senior outside hitter Malina Terrell’s 17 kills, USF managed to hit .298 in the match, their second best offensive outing in conference play this season. With the help of senior setter Mackenzie Murtagh’s 31 assists and sophomore setter Jurja Vlasic’s 16 assists, the Dons powered themselves to their third straight win in two weeks.

On Saturday, USF’s volleyball alumnae returned for their annual alumni weekend festivities, which consisted of USF alumni playing against the current Dons squad.

Following the Santa Clara match, USF now heads back on the road for two games. They face Portland in Portland, Ore. at 7:00 p.m. tonight and Gonzaga in Spokane, Wash. at 12:00 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 2.

Zaloznik was named the WCC player of the week for her performances against the Gaels and UOP. (Photo by Aidan McKevitt)

Volleyball: Zaloznik Named WCC Player of the Week

It was a close match, but team leader junior middle blocker Valentina Zaloznik, last week’s WCC Player of the Week, and the rest of the Dons were able to hang on for dear life to pull out a victory against the University of Pacific. USF defeated the Tigers (11-9, 4-5 WCC) in five sets, 26-24, 25-21, 19-25, 18-25, 15-8, on Saturday, Oct. 18 at War Memorial Gym.

The Dons, who are now 9-10 on the season and 5-4 in conference play, were coming off a big win against Bay Area rival St. Mary’s on Thursday. Senior outside hitter/ middle blocker Malina Terrell and freshman opposite/outside hitter Katarina Pilepic led USF to the four set, 25-21, 17-25, 25-23, 2518 victory against the Gaels. San Francisco is one of just four WCC teams above .500 so far this season. On Saturday, the first two sets were anything but controlled as the lead went back and forth, foreshadowing that the Dons would be in it for the long haul.  Sensing a distinct rhythm that USF got into time and again, Pacific called several timeouts in the first two sets, but this was to no avail as the Dons were able to outlast the Tigers to go up 2-0.

Whatever Tigers Head Coach Greg Gibbons said to refocus his squad before the third set did the trick, as they marched out to an early 6-1 lead that the Dons never overcame. The lead see-sawed back and forth again in the fourth set, with the Tigers eventually holding on at the end to tie it up at 2-2.

Sensing a change in momentum that included two questionable calls by the referees, the Tigers looked like they were in prime position to win in the fifth set. However, the experience and demeanor of the Dons were too much for the Tigers to complete the comeback.
“It was not the first time this year that we have faced the fifth set so we knew what we were heading into,” Zaloznik said. “We knew we had to set up our game and fight back.”

The Dons did just that, as they held off Pacific 15-9 in the fifth set. The Tigers were looking to improve to their WCC record to 5-4 with the win, but the defense and hitting power of the Dons was simply too much for the Tigers to handle, as the dynamic duo of Zaloznik and Terrell posted 36 kills, leading an unstoppable Dons attack. Blocks were key for the Dons as well, exhilarating the crowd and helping the team at pivotal moments.

“We got some huge blocks in perfect timings,” said Zaloznik.

With the help of these well-timed blocks, the Dons were able to pick up their fifth WCC win and gather some momentum heading into their next match, which will be against Santa Clara on Friday, Oct. 25 at 6:30 p.m. at War Memorial Gym.


M. Terrell

Volleyball: Dons Rebound From Heartbreaking Loss to Gonzaga, Sweep Winless Pilots

University of San Francisco came out with guns blazing from the start last Saturday, Oct. 5 and earned a victory in a three-set sweep (25-19, 25-19, 25-19) against the Portland Pilots. The Dons, now 7-8 overall and 3-2 in the West Coast Conference (WCC), had a strong overall team performance.

In her first start of the season due to injury, senior outside hitter Malina Terrell led the Dons’ offense with 14 kills and a .560 hitting percentage. Freshman opposite hitter Katarina Pilepic contributed 10 kills while junior middle blocker Valentina Zaloznik tagged on 10 points for USF. As a team, the Dons finished the match with a season-high .363 attack percentage against the still winless Pilots (0-15, 0-6 WCC).

Not only was their offense on point, but USF’s defense also played a significant role in the win. Portland senior Autumn Wedan entered the match ranked 10th in the nation and leading the WCC with an average of 4.61 kills per set, but only managed to hit .091 against the Dons defense. With senior libero Rebecca Kopilovitch’s match-high 16 digs and four blocks by redshirt freshman middle blocker Inbar Vinarsky, USF handed the Pilots their 15th loss of the season.

“The girls played with energy; they didn’t wait and they went at it from the start, and they finished. We needed to win today and that’s the most important thing,” Head Coach Gilad Doron told USFdons.com. “Hopefully, we gained some confidence and we can go up and see what we can do against the best.”

On the previous Thursday, Oct. 3 the Dons suffered a heartbreaking 3-2 loss against the resilient Gonzaga Bulldogs in their WCC home opener. USF looked dominant in the first two sets when they beat the Bulldogs 25-15 and 25-20. However, even with Zaloznik leading the team on offense and defense, her 16 kills on .467 hitting, eight digs and five blocks were not enough to give the Dons the win. The Bulldogs came back strong in the third set and continued to rally from behind, eventually taking the last three sets to emerge victorious.

“You have to give a lot of credit to Gonzaga who came in and worked very hard together,” Assistant Head Coach Ken Ko told USFdons.com. “Usually that is exactly what we rely on – togetherness, resilience and fighting for every point no matter how difficult the situation is. Tonight we got a taste of our own medicine against us.”

“It wasn’t our best match today, that’s for sure, but we were still up after two,” Doron said. “We let them make a run in the third game and it was just enough to give them hope. Even though we tied it at 23, from that point it seemed to be all Gonzaga needed.”

The Dons are now back on the road for their next two games, facing No. 16 San Diego tonight at Jenny Craig Pavillion and then heading to Provo, Utah to face Brigham Young, who is currently undefeated in conference play, on Oct. 12.

V. Piplec

Volleyball: Dons Make Epic Comeback, Defeat Santa Clara 3-2

Throughout the early portion of the 2013 season, the Dons have had to overcome numerous obstacles, but the team has already shown some serious resilience. This was evident in their most re- cent game, as the Dons came back from being down two sets to zero in Santa Clara to win 3-2 in improbable, comeback fashion. After San Francisco lost the first two sets by the scores of 20-25 and 17-25, it stepped its game up tremendously and swept Santa Clara the rest of the way by winning 27-25, 28-26, and 15-8.

USF had numerous players con- tribute to its victory. Junior middle blocker Valentina Zaloznik and freshman opposite/outside hit- ter Katarina Pilepic, two players who were named to the Aztec In- vitational All-Tournament Squad in mid-September, were both key to the victory in Santa Clara. Za- loznik had 12 kills and nine blocks, while Pilepic led the team with 14 kills. Pilepic also added eight digs to her impressive night. Other dominant players included senior setter Mackenzie Murtagh with 26 assists and sophomore outside hitter Ester de Vries, who had 15 digs.

“It was just an amazing performance, and I couldn’t be more proud of the team,” Head Coach Gilad Doron told usfdons.com. “It wasn’t necessarily a good day for individual performances, but as a team it was really amazing. They never gave up and gave everything they had to fight their way back.”

With the victory, the Dons are now 6-7 overall. Their record in the West Coast Conference is 2-1 after the end of their first conference- play road trip. USF had previously defeated Pepperdine on the road after losing at Loyola Marymount. Overall, this was a positive road trip for the Dons, and they also achieved something that had never happened in USF volleyball his- tory: Defeating Santa Clara and Pepperdine on the road in the same season for the first time ever.

“With the early WCC results across the league, we are seeing that anybody can beat anybody on a given night,” Doron told usfdons.com. “These two wins show that we’re responding to all the adversity early in the season, and hopefully it will build even more confidence and belief in our system and our team as we face our next challenge.”

USF hopes to build upon its rising success when it takes on Gonzaga on Oct. 3 at War Memorial Gymnasium at 6 p.m. Now that the Dons have proved that they can compete with anyone, the rest of the year looks to be very exciting. San Francisco will be looking to turn more heads in their direction, as the team has begun to garner that kind of respect with much of the regular season still left to be played.