Volleyball hounds Wolf Pack in 3-0 sweep

Senior+Natalie+Smith+sets+up+for+a+serve+during+the+SDSU%2FUSD+Invitational.

Andrew Finley

Senior Natalie Smith sets up for a serve during the SDSU/USD Invitational.

by Megan Oytas, Staff Writer

San Diego State came out strong in the first of their last two home matches, shutting down the University of Nevada in straight sets (25-18, 25-18, 25-21) on Nov. 18 at Peterson Gym.

The Aztecs (8-21, 5-12 MWC) kept the Wolf Pack (3-25, 0-17 MWC) at bay with a posted .323 hitting percentage versus Nevada’s .194. 

The Aztecs were once again led in kills by senior outside hitter Victoria O’Sullivan with 14 kills and senior outside hitter Zoi Faki with 11 kills. Defensively, sophomore setter Kennedy Feuerborn shut down the Wolf Pack with five block assists, with senior middle blocker Andrea Walker following closely with four.

The first set was tightly contested until the Aztecs surged ahead with an 8-1 run to take the lead 20-14, with five of the points being earned off of Nevada errors. The Scarlet and Black finished off the set with kills from Faki and freshman opposite hitter Jordyn Goldsmith.

The second set had the Aztecs take a slim lead — only ahead by two or three points. But once Nevada narrowed the lead at 21-18, SDSU took the set 25-18 off of a Nevada service error and three attack errors.

“I think that we made them make those errors,” Faki said. “We pushed a lot and we came in here and said that we’re going to keep pushing and we’re not going to show in our faces that we’re down or up. It’s us making them make the mistakes with our confidence, our toughness, our swings, our decisions, all that.”

The third set saw the Aztecs and Nevada tie six times until the Scarlet and Black took the final set with kills from O’Sullivan and Feuerborn and a block from the combined efforts of Feuerborn and junior middle blocker Julia Haynie.

Every point was savored by the team, with the players erupting in cheers and dancing after every kill or block and supplying those on the court with extra energy.

“I think that being together as a team and just supporting each other is the goal of everything, right?” Faki said. “This is why we play the sport. It felt really good knowing that these five girls have my back and I have the backs of these girls as well.”

Younger players got their chance to shine, too. Sophomore defensive specialist Nadia Barcklay —  a player who had five sets of total playtime on the season prior to the match — came in for all three sets, and posted four digs and three assists, as well as multiple successful serves.

“Anyone who puts in as much work as her and doesn’t get the playing time, it’s difficult on them,” head coach Brent Hilliard said. “And to be rewarded with playing time and then more important, to produce like she did, she was excellent tonight. Every play — her serve, her defense, her passing — was really good.”

The quick three-set win also rejuvenated the team, who endured five five-set matches in the past four weeks.

“It feels like a complete foreign entity,” Hilliard said. “I don’t even know what a three-set victory looks like, it’s been a while. It was quick. Hopefully, they get some confidence going in so they come out tomorrow, have a good practice, and be ready for San Jose State.”

As the season comes to a close, the Aztecs are looking to finish strong for their final match against San Jose State.

“It’s our last match, and as a senior and someone that has played this game for six years now, all I have to say is that I’m giving my 100%,” Faki said. “I’m leaving it all on the court. I know that everybody is going to do the same thing and that’s all you can ask for. You can ask for heart, you can ask for effort, and you can ask for giving your 100% on the court.”

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