The final home game of the season was also Senior Night, and players Halimah Oswald, Lauren Walsh, Reyna Rochin, Sarah Kurfess and Robyn Hall were honored in a pregame ceremony before the Gators (9-10) trounced the winless Toros, 25-6, 25-18, 25-18.
Led by 13 kills apiece from Oswald and Hall, the Gators were clearly bolstered by the night’s importance.
“I was looking forward to this night the whole year,” Hall said, laughing. “(The Toros are) a good team, they could get going, but I mean, we were ready to crush them since yesterday, so it was definitely fun.”
She had reason to laugh, too, after contributing a .632 hitting percentage. The team combined hit .422, a season high in conference play.
All of the players were in celebratory moods after the match, but none more so than the seniors.
“It’s kind of surreal, it’s kind of like, is this really happening?” Oswald said. “Like at the beginning of the game when they had that little ceremony, I hardly remember it, to be honest.”
The differences between Saturday’s win and Friday’s loss to Cal State Los Angeles are like night and day: The team committed 23 attack errors, whereas they only gave up 9 against the Toros.
“They bounced back from the night before when we weren’t quite ready so it was good to see them come out determined and play as well as they did,” coach Michelle Patton said.
Players noticed the change, too.
“I think we were having fun,” Oswald added. “We were relaxed, we were just playing our game like we know how to play. I was having a blast the whole time. Even when we did make some errors, it was just like, okay, we’ll get the next one. We shook it off, got right back in it.”
The team hopes to carry that mentality with them on the road next weekend for the final two games of the season, a Friday night rematch with second-place Sonoma State, 16-4, and a Saturday night game at Humboldt State, 5-15.
“We just have to play well and push to play with that kind of standard, even when there’s a lot of resistance,” Patton said.