SF State women’s volleyball team hugs in a group after winning a point against Cal State LAon Sep. 25, 2021, in the Main Gym at Don Nasser Family Plaza.(Sabita Shrestha/Golden Gate Xpress) (Sabita Shrestha)
Back and forth volleyball match ends in an exciting victory for the Gators
In front of a passionate fan base, the Gators pulled off a victory against a tough opponent in a wire to wire match
The Don Nasser Plaza was electric Saturday night as the SF State volleyball team continued their season with a dramatic victory that came down to the wire.
The Gators haven’t skipped a beat after missing all of last season due to the pandemic. After a long wait, the Gators are back and clicking on all cylinders.
“I thought my season was over because of COVID,” said Taylor Garcia, a defensive specialist for the Gators. “I didn’t know I was gonna get to play again, I thought I was done. So I’m stoked to be back, and I’m so excited to see where this team goes.”
The Gators (10-1) matched up against a tough Cal State LA (7-4) team for the first time since the 2019 conference championship, in which Cal State LA was victorious. This time, the Gators got revenge. It was their first time beating the Eagles since 2015.
“It’s really good to see us come out on top after a couple of 5-set losses that we’ve had against these guys before,” said Gators Head Coach, Matt Hoffman. “You prepare for these games, you want to be in these games. I’m really happy that we were able to grind it out.”
The first set was won by the Gators 25-22 and foreshadowed how tight the rest of the contest would be. The Gators led for most of the second set, but the Eagles bounced back to win the set 25-21.
SF State had a strong third set, which was again back and forth until the Gators pulled away 25-19.
The fourth set gave the Gators trouble and tested the team in the most difficult set of the night for either team. The Gators were down 8-3 and then tied the set at nine apiece. They then fell behind 20-13 and stormed back to a 22-20 deficit. However, the Gators couldn’t hold on as the Eagles won the set 25-20.
Hoffman had a lot of respect for the fight shown by the Eagles.
“LA’s a really good team and we know they’re gonna fight,” he said. “They’re really good in really big moments, so we just had to remain steady and be able to match their competitiveness.”
Tied 2-2, the final set had the crowd roaring with every point scored by the Gators. The final set was filled with intensity and emotion as both teams traded points throughout. With a 14-13 match point for the Eagles on the line, the Gators responded by scoring two points to gain the advantage after a kill by Drew Morris. The Gators won the set 17-15 to win the match in five sets.
The crowd stormed the court to celebrate with the players after their hard fought victory.
“It’s fun to play against somebody that is good competition and isn’t scared to give you the ball back after you give it right back to them,” said Garcia. “So it’s a lot of fun back there.”
The Gators have been dominant this season. As a team, they lead the California Collegiate Athletic Association in hitting percentage and have the lowest opponents hitting percentage. The Gators have the second-best record in the conference of 12 teams, trailing only Cal Poly Pomona (11-0).
Brianna DeBoer, a defensive specialist who was constantly in the middle of the action throughout the match, is very excited about being a part of the team.
“Being able to compete again, as my first year representing the Gators, has been just an amazing experience,” she said. “The girls are extremely supportive and just the program culture that we’ve developed here, you can really see it.”
Their next match will be Thursday at Humboldt State and the next home match is on Saturday, Oct. 16 versus Cal State Monterey Bay.