The SF State volleyball team failed to keep up against its most formidable opponent yet Saturday night, undefeated Cal State San Bernardino. The Coyotes, currently ranked third in the nation, made quick work of the Gators with a 3-0 sweep.
The Gators looked like true contenders at the onset of the match, coming up with two big blocks against San Bernardino superstar Samantha Middleborn. They stayed close behind for much of the first set until the Coyotes powered their way to a 25-21 win.
“Once they started to (step their game up) we didn’t respond back to them,” said outside hitter Lauren Walsh. “I think we honestly were a little bit tired from last night. I feel like we still could have stayed in a little bit longer, especially that first game, could’ve taken that first game. That would’ve been big for us, too.”
Losing the first set changed the tone of night for the Gators, with 25-13 losses in the second and third sets.
“It didn’t really feel like we were mentally in it, mentally ready to begin with,” said middle hitter Robyn Hall. “I think it was more like the start of the game kind of set off a weak flame for us. We weren’t in our game, in our system at all.”
The Gators were clearly outmatched in the game and struggled to overcome the Coyotes dominating blockers. To put it in perspective, San Bernarndino has 8 players who are 6’ or taller. The Gators have two: Jazmine Williams, 6’, and Kelly Ostello, 6’1”.
“It was kind of tough just to place the ball, even,” Hall said. “We were trying to hit hard, I think, more than just placing, and that’s what they were doing (but) they’re good at placing balls, too.”
It was difficult for the team to see history repeat itself.
“Especially coming from a game like yesterday, not closing off, and then starting this first game and not closing off… It was just tough, but hey, that’s why they’re number three in the nation,” Williams said.
Although they couldn’t contain the entire Coyotes team, the Gators successfully limited Middleborn’s game. Before this weekend the top middle hitter in the country had a .511 hitting percentage, but hit only .286 against the Gators tonight.
Still, Middleborn, who was been named CCAA Athlete of the Week three times this season alone, contributed with three serving aces and several big blocks.
“It was just about knowing that we can really take it if we want to. That comes with being aggressive and still staying in it and being smarter, especially with that big block,” Walsh said.
The Gators continue their homestand next weekend, hosting Cal State Stanislaus Friday and rival Chico State, currently ranked third in the CCAA, Saturday. The team previously lost to the Wildcats in Chico earlier in the season and need a win against them to keep playoff hopes alive.