The Gators swept the first place Cal State Monterey Bay Otters on Oct. 27 to finish the year with a four-game winning streak at the Swamp and inch closer to a playoff spot.
The game had added importance to the Gators because it was their senior night. It was also “dig for a cure” night, where the team helped raise money to fund breast cancer research.
Before the game, SF State honored their five seniors: Kaitlyn Clemann, Vanessa Ditz, Eden Fukushima, Olivia Tabron and Lauren Williams. Each senior walked on the court with loved ones to be individually recognized and gifted flowers and a framed jersey.
The customs of senior night might have affected the Gators’ emotions at the start of the game. The Otters jumped out to a 5-1 lead, but SF State was able to tie it at 7-7 and pull away to win the set 25-20.
The second set was a back and forth battle between the teams. There were ten ties in the set until the Gators went on a 6-1 run and eventually won the set 25-21.
SF State continued their momentum into the third set. The Gators lead 20-9, the largest lead of the game. The Otters made a brief comeback and shrunk the lead to five. SF State kept their composure and won the set 25-18, and winning the game in straight sets.
“This is exactly what I expected,” said Senior libero and defensive specialist Vanessa Ditz. “[CSUMB] is tough and they’re a hard team to beat, but senior night was really special for us and we’ve been wanting to get this team for two years.”
The Gators lost to the Otters 3-2 earlier this season on Oct. 12. Head coach Matt Hoffman knew CSUMB was capable of a comeback and was happy that his team got the job done.
“I’m really glad we had a big lead,” Hoffman said, “[CSUMB] is going to fight, they’re going to compete, I knew that was going to happen. I just hoped that we could withstand it and we did.”
Senior outside hitter Olivia Tabron believed everyone contributed to the win.
“Everyone collectively did their jobs, it wasn’t just a few people,” said Tabron. “Everyone blocked, everyone dug, everyone served in, everyone hit well. I just think we all came together and just really played good.”
Holding the flowers she received before the game, Tabron was jubilant when talking about winning her last home game at SF State.
“It was the best night ever. It was so great,” Tabron said. “Great way to end it here, but we’re not done.”
The Gators hit the road for their final two regular season games as they look to clinch a playoff berth. They face Sonoma State on Nov. 1 and Humboldt State on Nov. 3. Despite both teams being last in the division, Hoffman is not overlooking the upcoming opponents.
“We have to treat them as if they’re at the top of the division. We got to respect everybody,” Hoffman explained. “Everyone can beat us in this conference, so we have to go out and prepare for them like we are preparing for any other team.”