Aztecs take home two wins in JLABS Tournament


Photo by Weicheng Han

Several SDSU women’s volleyball players celebrate after winning a point against Loyola Marymount.

by Sydney Northcutt, Contributor

San Diego State’s volleyball team showed improvement with two impressive wins as hosts of the JLABS Challenge this weekend at Aztec Court. The Aztecs went 2-1 at the tournament and improved their record to 4-5 on the season.

On Friday, Loyola Marymount handed SDSU its sole loss of the tournament in three sets (19-25, 23-25, 22-25). The Aztecs were competitive throughout all three sets but were unable to overcome their own service errors paired with the disadvantage in kills, blocks, and digs. Despite eight lead changes and 16 ties during the final two sets the Lions proved to be victorious.

Saturday offered a much brighter scene with the Aztecs taking two wins. The first came against Long Beach State in an intense five-set match that kept the crowd on their toes (14-25, 25-21, 20-25, 25-20, 15-3).

Early on in the match SDSU fell victim to a few communication errors and under-par serve reception, but in the later sets it began applying pressure with aggressive serving and efficient hitting. SDSU set the tone for the fifth set emphatically and got out to an early 5-0 lead.

“Going into that fifth set our mindset was ‘point one, our point’. We had the momentum and we had to be louder to decrease their energy. Once we did that it was easy and consistent and we were just having fun out there, it was natural,” junior middle blocker Deja Harris said.

Head coach Deitre Collins-Parker was pleased with her squad’s ability to bounce back from the day before.

“After dropping the match to LMU, the fact that we came back and won our first five game match gave us a lot of confidence. It’s great to see us continue to battle and put it all together,” Collins-Parker said.

The Aztecs wrapped up their tournament play Saturday night by sailing to a three-set win over University of the Pacific (25-19, 25-17, 25-22). Freshman setter Gabi Peoples started the second match of her career and dished out the ball to a number of hitters who all put the ball away, including Harris, sophomore outside hitter Hannah Turnlund, junior outside hitter Alexandra Psoma and senior outside hitter Alexis Cage.

Collins-Parker said the balanced attack is a feature that benefits all involved in the offense.

“I think the more balanced we can be the more difficult it is for who we are playing. A lot of players are focusing on Deja which opens it up for our other hitters. And then when they have to worry about our other hitters it helps out Deja,” Collins-Parker said.

While the first set featured more lead changes and ties the Aztecs took total control of the last two sets, giving the Tigers little hope for a comeback.

Cage was a steady standout all weekend long and earned an all-tournament team selection.

“She’s really evolved into a special leader for us… we always have to have her on the floor, she always is able to step in and get anything we need done. She’s just a huge presence,” Collins-Parker said.

SDSU will look to build on it’s new-found momentum as it takes on University of San Diego on Tuesday at 6 p.m. in Jenny Craig Pavilion.