Dons Go 1 for 1 in the Northwest

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USF volleyball returned from a Pacific Northwest road trip with both a win and a loss, sweeping Gonzaga University last Thursday and falling to the University of Portland on Saturday. The Dons are now 2-1 in West Coast Conference play (11-6 overall) with their first win coming from an impressive opening night sweep of the No. 18 University of San Diego Toreros.
The Dons continued on what would end up being a five match winning streak with their defeat of the Gonzaga Bulldogs 25-16, 25-19, 25-19 at the Martin Center in Spokane, WA. Ferocious hitting by the Dons early on set the tone for the match. San Francisco had 19 kills in the first set, while the Bulldogs put down just 12. Junior outside hitter Jocelyn Levig led the team in kills, totaling 13 on 33 attempts. San Francisco also played strong defensively, holding the Bulldogs to a meager .140 hitting success rate.
“We passed well, we served well, we spread the ball and we got contributions from different hitters at different times,” head coach Gilad Doron said.
Freshman libero Rebecca Kopilovitch had a match-high 26 digs, while sophomore setter Joan Caloiaro achieved a solid double-double with 39 assists and 13 digs.
“I thought Joan did a good job mixing it up and Becky played very well defensively,” Doron said.
Freshman outside hitter Vendula Strakova and sophomore middle blocker Malina Terrell played strong offensive matches, finishing with 11 and 9 kills respectively.
“We took care of business,” Doron said. “We’re playing together and playing smart.”

Unfortunately, the Dons didn’t take care of business in their next match at Portland’s Chiles Center, losing 25-23, 20-25, 25-14, 21-25, 15-13 on Saturday.
It was USF’s first conference defeat and the Pilots (7-10, 1-3 WCC) first conference win. “We didn’t start the game very focused and missed a lot of serves early,” Doron said. The Dons hitting slowed down significantly from Thursday’s match, with a team percentage of just .212, compared to .303. Strakova led the team in kills with 20 on 41 attempts. Freshman middle blocker Valentina Zaloznik had 11 kills and four of the team’s six blocks, two of which were solo.
Portland outperformed San Francisco offensively, hitting .286 with 66 total kills compared to the Don’s 55. San Francisco looked strong throughout the fourth set and the beginning of the fifth, but the Pilots strong hitting brought them back from a 7-2 deficit early in the fifth set and they rallied back for the win.
“Portland played well. You’ve got to give them credit. We played from behind quite a bit. We dominated game four and had a chance in game five, but they were just a little bit better than us today,” Doron said. The Pilots win was their third straight against San Francisco.
San Francisco plays its next game against their local rivals, the Santa Clara University Broncos, on Saturday, Oct. 8. The two bay area teams will begin play at 1:00pm at San Francisco’s War Memorial Gymnasium.

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