Volleyball: Dons Overwhelmed by Nationally Ranked BYU, San Diego

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Nicholas Welsh
Staff Writer

After USF’s three-set win over St. Mary’s on the night that senior middle blocker Valentina Zaloznik got her 1,000th collegiate kill, the Dons dropped two road games to two excellent teams, No. 10 BYU and No. 23 San Diego. The Dons lost both games 3-1, and now find themselves 2-2 in West Coast Conference play and 9-7 overall. 

Last Saturday, the Dons were looking to rebound against San Diego after their setback at BYU, but they couldn’t get on track against the well-rounded Toreros squad.

Each set was characterized by long runs from San Diego that often forced San Francisco to play catch-up. The Dons had the most success in the second set; led by Zaloznik, they were able keep pace with the Toreros, and eventually take the set 25-21 and tie the match 1-1.

In sets three and four, however, USF was unable to defend against San Diego’s relentless scoring. In the third set, the Dons opened up a brief lead, but a long Toreros run gave them separation, and San Diego won the set 25-16. In the fourth and final set, the Dons started sluggish but battled back, only to fall 25-22.

Zaloznik amassed 16 kills and 11 blocks to lead the Dons. Sophomore opposite hitter Katarina Pilepic pitched in with 14 kills and 10 digs.

In the match against the BYU Cougars, which took place in Provo, Utah on Thursday, Oct. 2, the Dons were outmatched by a superior Cougars squad. In the first halves of sets one and two, the Dons were able to hang tight with BYU. However, BYU’s high-energy attack eventually allowed them to pull away from the Dons to win both sets and take a 2-0 lead.

In the third set, the Dons put forth their best effort of the night to avoid getting swept. USF built up a slight lead in the beginning of the set that it was able to keep. The Dons won the set 25-23, handing BYU their first loss in any set since Sept. 12. In the fourth set, though, BYU took over, dominating the Dons to win easily by a score of 25-11.

Pilepic finished with a team-high 20 kills, and sophomore setter Kiara McKibben added 34 assists for the Dons.

“We’ve got to give credit to BYU tonight, and I am proud our team stayed poised and didn’t give up, fighting throughout the match,” head coach Gilad Doron told usfdons.com.

The Dons can now look forward to a pair of games in front of their home crowd. Their next match will be today against Gonzaga at 7:00 p.m. at War Memorial Gym, where they remain undefeated this season.

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