The SF State volleyball season is now at the halfway mark and heading into the final weeks, including a hefty home stand. This was a team that began the season ranked 7th in the California Collegiate Athletic Association, yet, despite a five-game win streak in September, has only moved up two spots in the rankings. Still, this is a very consistent team, 10-7 with a 6-6 conference record. At home they are 4-2; away 3-4; and neutral 3-1. Here’s a look at the season so far.
This is a team where anyone can come in and win the game. While every game is a collaborative effort, there are two standout players that contribute on a regular basis.
Tolenada, the team’s setter, is the leader in assists, although leader seems too tame a word with 591 assists on the season. Teammate Sarah Kurfess is second, with 58. Tolenada currently leads the CCAA in average assists per set with 10.75. She frequently posts double-digit digs as well, resulting in 8 double-double games this season.
Oswald’s on-court stats speak for themselves; she’s leading the team with 160 kills and inching her way up the SF State career block assists list. It is not just the numbers that she brings to the court, it’s her fiery style as well. When Oswald makes contact during a play, there is little doubt that the ball will die a quick death, earning big cheers from the crowd and high-fives from her teammates.
MVP: Tolenada narrowly edges Oswald with her place on the CCAA leaderboard.
Clearly, home is the sweetest for the Gators. Their lone home loss came against Cal Poly Pomona, who also has a 5-5 conference record and has defeated SF State twice. That game was a hard loss, going to five close sets. Had the team not made some mistakes and gotten some key plays, they could have easily stayed undefeated on campus. October will be a big month for the team, as they play nearly every weekend at SF State. They will also be playing some nationally-ranked teams.
Most of the team’s matches have been closely won or lost, but they haven’t fared as well against nationally ranked opponents. They were swept by UC San Diego, ranked 16th, and two days before they had lost 1-3 to Cal State San Bernardino, ranked 3rd.
The real disappointment is the team’s 0-2 record against Cal Poly Pomona. After the close 2-3 home loss to the Broncos the team had a chance to learn from its mistakes, yet suffered an even more dismal 1-3 defeat two weeks later in Pomona. The teams aren’t scheduled to face each other again this season.
The bottom line
Almost like a broken record the team talks about its chemistry and “mental toughness.” That’s not a bad refrain, however – October will be the team’s litmus test. It will also be a bittersweet month, since there are some seniors on the team who have played for this team since its rebirth back in 2009. These next few games will be the last of their college careers and it is up to them to write their legacy. The team came into the season with hopes for the conference title; the road they would have to travel to get there is a difficult one, with the weekend’s loss against Sonoma State and upcoming games against UC San Diego and the undefeated Cal State San Bernardino. The Gators will have to win every other game and will even need to upset one of those teams to make it to the postseason, but they have the talent and drive to do so.
Final record: 16-11