Column: Duo of O’Sullivan and Turnlund provides steadiness for Aztecs

by Breven Honda, Staff Writer

Two players on San Diego State’s volleyball team have these statistics through 13 games. 

Player A: 51 sets played, 12 matches started, 184.0 points, 3.61 points/set, 177 kills and 3.47 kills/set. 

Player B: 51 sets played, 12 matches started, 195.5 points, 3.83 points/set, 181 kills and 3.55 kills/set.

Furthermore, both of these players ranks third and fifth in the Mountain West Conference in kills and fourth and sixth in average kills/set. 

Who would you pick?

Player A is senior outside hitter Hannah Turnlund and Player B is sophomore outside hitter Victoria O’Sullivan.  

Turnlund and O’Sullivan have become a consistent force for the Aztecs on offense, but head coach Deitre Collins-Parker said they do not even play at the same time. 

“They are on opposite times, so we need them both to be good,” Collins-Parker said. 

These two Aztecs have kept the team steady throughout the season. 

In 10 out of SDSU’s 13 games, Turnlund and O’Sullivan have recorded at least 10 kills, including Turnlund’s career high (24) against Florida Gulf Coast and O’Sullivan’s career high (22) against West Virginia – both in five-set matches.

SDSU’s record in those 10 games: 8-2. 

The importance of their performances remains big as O’Sullivan ranks fifth and Turnlund ranks seventh in the MWC in points. 

In addition, O’Sullivan ranks sixth and Turnlund ranks eighth in average points per set. 

O’Sullivan said the combination of her and Turnlund gives the team confidence, even when they are not on the court at the same time.  

“It’s good to have both of us being able to do our job,” she said. “(You) can’t have one person get all the points, so it’s really good to have Hannah. We rely on her a lot. It’s comforting to have her on the court when I’m not on.”

When SDSU (8-5, 1-1 MW) played San José State on Sept. 26, O’Sullivan had 20 kills – her second 20-plus kills game of the season – and Turnlund recorded 19 kills of her own. 

In addition to Turnlund and O’Sullivan, the team has gained depth at the outside hitter position from junior Erin Gilchrist, who returned to action from injury against Grand Canyon on Sept. 14.

Collins-Parker said the return of Gilchrist gives the team more opportunities.

“Erin is super important,” Collins-Parker said. “She’s swinging at a high point and doing some things. She has to improve her blocking and be more of a presence (on the court).”

Gilchrist, who stands at 6-foot-1, recorded one block assist against the Spartans (5-8, 0-2 MW). Two days later against Nevada (11-3, 1-1 MW), she upped that number to six block assists. 

Collins-Parker said Gilchrist’s presence up front adds to the depth of the squad. 

“Having someone that size at the net is so important for us to have options,” Collins-Parker said. “Knowing that we have (sophomore outside hitter Maddie Lenn) and a few other options off the bench that can do some things for us (it shows that) depth is so important.”

After a four-set loss to Nevada, SDSU returns home to Peterson Gym to face UNLV (4-9, 0-2 MW) at 6 p.m. on Oct. 3. and New Mexico (5-9, 0-2 MW) at 2 p.m. on Oct. 5.