Saddleback’s women’s volleyball team had no problem getting past the fact it were playing its home opener on the road and embarrassed Southwestern College in a 3-0 sweep Sept. 5.Finding themselves down 4-1 early in game one, Gauchos outside hitter Hannah McElroy and company quickly erased the early jitters to regain the lead at 5-4 and never gave it back in the 30-20, 30-23, 30-15 win.
Saddleback’s patience and well-placed strikes frustrated the Jaguars during game one, as they just couldn’t match the intensity Saddleback continued to bring.
The second game teetered back and forth before Southwestern got their biggest lead at 17-14, prompting Gauchos head coach Carmen Stratton to call her first and only time out of the match.”I told them that they have to earn their victory. No team, especially in our league, is just going to give us a win,” Stratton said. “Go out there and earn it.”
Those words and any others Stratton said during that timeout sparked the Gauchos, who came out fighting, determined not to let the game slip away.
The key moment in game two came with the score tied at 20. Middle blocker Amanda Scott elevated at the net to send a Shaquille O’Neal-type rejection back into the face of the opposing Jaguars. The ball bounced off two Southwestern players before finding the open floor.
The Gauchos put together a 10-3 run after that block, securing the match with a 30-23 victory in game two.
Saddleback finished the match by completely dominating and controlling the third game, winning easily, 30-15.
“I think were definitely bonding as a team, we are just working on our confidence level and getting up for the games,” said Gauchos setter Jennifer Walsh. “I think we definitely have the talent.”
The Gauchos were led by McElroy, who powered 13 kills. Libero Megan Ozurovich stayed gritty down low on the floor, collecting 10 digs to go along with four aces. Setter Amber Richter was all over the court getting airborne diving after anything out of her reach, collecting a game high 14 assists along the way.
After the game, Stratton was pleased with the win, but quick to remind everyone it is a long season.
“We got a win, which was good,” Stratton said. “At moments I think everything came together that we’ve been teaching in practice, but there was still some inconsistencies. We need to work out some of the kinks.”
The Gauchos next host Bakersfield as they continue non-conference play Wednesday, Sept. 12 at 6 p.m.