It was a close fought match, but the Sonoma State Seawolves girls’ volleyball team came out on top against the Chico State Wildcats, 3-1, Sat., Sep. 29th.
The Seawolves went into the game coming off their recent loss against Stanislaus State the night before. If that loss stuck with them, however, they didn’t seem to show it, entering the Sonoma State gymnasium with all the fire and fury of a team that wanted a win.
“We have been struggling. We’re young. We’ve got three all conference kids from last year who aren’t playing right now because of injuries,” said Bear Grassl, Seawolves’ coach. “And because our young players have gotten to play so much, they’ve been through a lot of battles, and experience wins matches. If you don’t have experience then you’re going to have to get it somewhere.”
The opening of the best of five matches started off even, and kept right on going that way. First the Seawolves seized possession, then the Wildcats and as the score ratcheted up into the high teens neither team secured a lead—that is until Wildcats, Brooke Fogal, served seven successful volleys in a row, bringing the Wildcats within one point of winning the set.
But the Seawolves had an answer. With Tate Battistini serving, the Seawolves pulled in six points in a row and closed out the set 26-24.
The next set belonged firmly to the Wildcats. They took an early lead when Bekah Boyle leapt and spiked the ball over the net. Seawolves, Ashleigh Phelps, dove for the save, but it lay just outside her reach. The ball bounced and the set ended, 15-25.
“It’s a super mental game sometimes when you’re up to stay up,” said Lexi Mudd, Seawolves’ libero. “There’s some people on the team that haven’t really played through harder games where you really have to buckle up and play hard. We’re getting over that.”
A lot of pressure now rested on the Seawolves’ shoulders. With the score tied, the third set was vital and could offer either team the momentum they so desperately needed for the win.
The Wildcats fought viciously. The set started off even and it wasn’t until Wildcats’, Brooke Fogal, stepped up to serve. She launched a five-point scoring offensive that put the Wildcats within two points of winning the set.
It took a fantastic bit of team play between Seawolves, Jenna Miller and Hannah Coe, to take back possession. Miller tossed the ball up into the air into just the perfect position for Coe to spike it, firing off a shot the Wildcats simply weren’t fast enough to answer. After that and another couple plays, the Seawolves closed out the set 25-23.
With momentum now solidly in the Seawolves’ corner, the final set saw them take a firm lead and maintain it all the way through. They ended the fourth set and the game 25-18.
“It’s something that we’re working on—stringing our consistency together,” said Cody Hein, Wildcats’ head coach. “We had some moments tonight where we had a really good block on the outside, and then moments where we let that outside hit pretty well against us. It’s just a matter of taking care of the ‘x’s’ and ‘o’s’. We know what we need to work on moving forward.”
The Sonoma State Seawolves are now 8-9 for the season. Their next game will be away against Cal State East Bay Fri., Oct. 5th.