Volleyball finishes 7-4 in non-conference games, opens Mountain West play Thursday

Senior+outside+hitter+Hannah+Turnlund+and+sophomore+outside+hitter+Victoria+O%27Sullivan+prepare+for+the+opposing+serve+during+the+Aztecs%27+3-1+win+over+Long+Beach+State+on+Sept.+19+at+Peterson+Gym.
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Volleyball finishes 7-4 in non-conference games, opens Mountain West play Thursday

Senior outside hitter Hannah Turnlund and sophomore outside hitter Victoria O'Sullivan prepare for the opposing serve during the Aztecs' 3-1 win over Long Beach State on Sept. 19 at Peterson Gym.

Senior outside hitter Hannah Turnlund and sophomore outside hitter Victoria O'Sullivan prepare for the opposing serve during the Aztecs' 3-1 win over Long Beach State on Sept. 19 at Peterson Gym.

Sam Mayo

Senior outside hitter Hannah Turnlund and sophomore outside hitter Victoria O'Sullivan prepare for the opposing serve during the Aztecs' 3-1 win over Long Beach State on Sept. 19 at Peterson Gym.

Sam Mayo

Sam Mayo

Senior outside hitter Hannah Turnlund and sophomore outside hitter Victoria O'Sullivan prepare for the opposing serve during the Aztecs' 3-1 win over Long Beach State on Sept. 19 at Peterson Gym.

by Breven Honda, Staff Writer

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San Diego State volleyball starts Mountain West Conference action this week against San José State on Thursday Sept. 26 at 6 p.m.

Head coach Deitre Collins-Parker said playing difficult opponents helped them get ready for conference play.

“I definitely think we’ve played a tough schedule against teams that will do well in their conferences that play teams at a high level,” she said. “The best way to get ready for high level is to play against high level, so I am really excited about what we’ve accomplished this preseason.”

The first big test during the Aztecs’ preseason ended in a loss versus Florida Gulf Coast in five sets on Aug. 31.

Then the following week, they were down two sets to none and five points away from losing in straight sets before going on a 5-0 run and winning the final three sets against West Virginia.

Collins-Parker said those five-set matches helped in the long run.

“It was important that in the first loss that we had in five (sets) to Florida Gulf Coast, we walked away knowing that we could win and then the next time we were in a (five-set match), we won that,” Collins-Parker said. “Those were all learning opportunities to get better that when you’re faced with that, it’s not a surprise anymore, you know what to do and how to handle it.”

The Aztecs’ resilience and growth has come alive so far this season, and senior middle blocker Tamia Reeves has been right in the middle of it.

Collins-Parker said Reeves has given this offense stability through growth and time.

“The one thing that Tamia has always been is consistent,” Collins-Parker said. “Now, she has a bigger role in an offense and she is getting a lot more kills than (in the past) where she has hit a good percentage. (It is also) maturity and (being a) senior.”

Reeves, who leads the MW in hitting percentage (.394), said her game is fueled by her mentality.

“For me, it’s a mindset,” Reeves said. “Come every day the same, get better in practice and do what I know to do in games. I like to stay positive in the hitting percentage, but I like to be up there in the leaders. Competing with myself every game is something I need to do.”

As Reeves wants to do her best, she is a senior who knows what this team is about and has gone through in the past four years.

The 6-foot-1 Texas native said this team has improved its motivation from last season.

“We’ve done a way better job of it, and it has shown through our record from last season to this season,” Reeves said. “That will be a huge part of our game plan if we can contain our side of the net, then the other side to play against – just focusing on our attitude and what we can do.”

Reeves’ senior mate, outside hitter Hannah Turnlund, said their focus is only on the next team they face on the schedule.

“Our goal is to take it one by one and to play our best every game,” Turnlund said. “(Our biggest goal is) to win conference.”

The Aztecs’ first serve of Mountain West play will be at home Thursday against SJSU.

Turnlund said she expects this Spartan team to be no different than last year, who beat the Scarlet and Black in five sets both times last season.

“We expect them to be as good as last year,” she said. “We have a chip on our shoulder (because) we lost to them last year.”

Breven Honda is a junior studying journalism. Follow him on Twitter @BrevenHonda.

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