Going into the season, the SF State volleyball team had 33 votes on the coach’s poll to finish in last place. Here at the midpoint, the team defied the bottom-feeder expectations with a 9-9 record, and have a chance to get over .500 as they head into next week.
The storyline of this year’s Gators squad has been its consistency in dominating on Fridays and faltering on Saturdays. The team was 0-5 on Saturdays this year before they headed into last weekend’s matches, including a shutout loss to the Cal State Stanislaus Warriors.
“I think that we have done pretty well, but obviously we haven’t been as successful as we would like to be on Saturdays,” said junior Jessica Nicerio. “I think that we’re working hard in practice and hopefully we can see the results soon.”
The team finally broke its Saturday curse last weekend, winning back-to-back games for the first time this season against Cal State L.A. and Cal State Dominguez Hills by a combined score of 6-1.
The Gators have put together quality wins against some of the California Collegiate Athletic Association’s best teams, including two victories over Cal State L.A. (8-5) and second place CSU San Bernardino (10-3). The Gators looked like world beaters in those games, but at times have played down to the levels of inferior teams in losses.
“I think we’ve been really excited to beat some of our toughest opponents and some of the best teams in conference,” senior Jacquie Brice said. “That’s obviously a plus but there’s definitely a lot we need to focus on in the second half of conference.”
The 2014 Gators have a knack for being tenacious in tough matches. The team has managed to take teams to the fourth or fifth set in seven of its nine losses.
As of late, the Gators have relied on freshman Samantha Krakower and sophomore Malia Muin to fill the spots of injured seniors Melissa Horton and Jazmine Williams. Both players have filled in nicely for the seniors, posting career highs in kills.
“We’re asking them to do a lot of high level volleyball things,” Muhe said. “There have been frustrations at times with it, but when we execute it in practice and we see it executed in games it’s really exciting.”
Although making the playoffs will be difficult for the Gators, the players made names for themselves thus far. Jaclyn Clark’s 215 kills ranks her fifth in the conference. In addition, Nicerio now ranks third all-time for digs at SF State with 1,193, and Brice ranks fourth all-time at SF State in assists with 1,867.
The second half of the season will start with a four game road trip for the Gators against some of the best the CCAA has to offer.
“There’s always room for improvement, and I think consistency is one of those things,” Muhe said. “Just being consistent in how we’re executing and being disciplined is something that we’re working on, and I think it’s something that we will continue to work on.”