The SF State volleyball team knew the stakes for Saturday’s game were high, and with playoff hopes in mind the players rose to the challenge, defeating Chico State 3-1.
The team was completely elated after the dominating victory, 25-23, 25-22, 22-25, 25-18.
“We needed this win,” middle hitter Halimah Oswald said. Oswald led the team with 18 kills and a .412 hitting percentage. “I can’t even put it into words. It was just great to have the opportunity to play them and capitalize on it.”
This victory marks the first time the Gators have beaten the Wildcats at home since the program was restarted back in 2008.
“We knew we were going to have to push ourselves out of our comfort zone to play well and perform consistently. That was a challenge (but) they came in there mentally ready. Defensively we stepped up, and I was proud of them,” head coach Michelle Patton said.
The Wildcats were 15-5 coming into tonight’s match and ranked fourth in the CCAA. They had also defeated the Gators 1-3 in Chico earlier this season.
“Chico’s a great athletic team, they’re fast, they’re physical. We knew we were going to have to play really well to slow them down,” Patton said.
The team continued to serve well, with three aces by junior Megan Johnson, and also saw an increase in its blocking game tonight.
“It feels good because it’s the things we work on in practice and we can see it translating into games which is just really exciting,” Oswald said. “It means that we’re growing and we have the right people and we have the right coaches and everything’s working right now. It’s exciting to see it all come together like that.”
The Gators had a team total of 11 blocks, led by freshman Jazmine Williams with six.
“We just knew that for us to compete and to stop their offense we had to get a lot of blocks. We kept their main hitters, who’re usually in high percentages, down, so our defense was on and (also) our offense,” Williams said.
After last Friday night’s 3-1 win over Cal State Stanislaus senior middle hitter Robyn Hall said she thought the team was ready for tonight’s match, and she was right.
“This game was big, and I think we all knew that,” Hall said. “Coming in from yesterday (with a win) helped. The energy was there and I think we were ready for them. They really didn’t do anything that surprised us so it was more our game that we had to focus on.”
The team moved up to fifth in the CCAA rankings Friday, a fact that surprised some of the players.
“I didn’t even know! That’s just the ultimate icing on the cake, to move up,” Hall said.
The team finished up its long October homestand with a 3-3 record. They now look to away games at Cal State East Bay and Cal State Monterey Bay next weekend before returning home for the final two home games of the season, November 4 and 5.