What may look like a rather ordinary and uneventful sweep by simply looking at the box score, was actually anything but ordinary and was rather hectic at times. A 10-1 run to end a set, an injury leading to lineups being improvised, and some big offensive and defensive numbers to make up for an error prone night at the service line helped propel the Tigers to a 3-0 sweep over Southwestern Community College to move to 26-4 on the year.
The first set saw the Tigers struggle out of the gates as it took them over half of the set to work their way into hitting at a positive hitting percentage for the night. The entire set was plagued by errors as the Tigers committed six attack errors, five service errors, two serve receive errors, and three blocking errors to provide 16 of the Spartans 21 point in the set. However, the Tigers were able to close out set one, 25-21, as they closed out on a 10-1 run helped in large part by a service run by Raquel Gonzales that saw her serve five aces. Elena Yee was also a bright spot offensively for the Tigers as she led the team with five kills with just one error on six swings.
The Tigers and Spartans played evenly throughout much of the second set. While the Tigers never seemed to be under too much pressure from the Spartans, they had not found a way to pull ahead either. With a 19-16 lead, the Tigers received a free ball from Southwestern that resulted in a kill by Tarah Henderson to move the advantage to 20-16. Unfortunately, Henderson had to leave the match following the kill due to an undisclosed injury. Following a break in the action to evaluate Henderson, Head Coach, Justin Hoskins, elected to use an exceptional substitution to reinsert Fauneil Olander into the set into a different rotational order than she had been entered previously. This action meant that Henderson would be unable to return for the remainder of the set. The Tigers called a timeout to talk things over.
"I've never had to use an exceptional substitution as a coach", stated Hoskins. "We had to figure out how we were going to proceed with a lineup that not only had we never practiced, but that is very unusual". The Tigers held on to win set two 25-20. "At that point, we were just relying on the girls to scrap for everything and find a way to earn points. Fortunately, we were able to finish out the last five points and switch sides up 2-0."
With Tarah Henderson out for the match and Jade Jenkins sidelined for the remainder of the season, the Tigers didn't have many options to rework their lineup heading into the third set. Instead, they stuck with the same lineup that they closed out set two with and relied on their defense to keep the ball off the floor and give their hitters opportunities. To the Tigers' credit, that's exactly what they did as they nearly doubled their 15.71 dig per set average with 31 digs in the third set led by Jelena Dukić and Halee Pedro with 8 each. Those digs turned into 16 kills in set three led by Sadie Smith's five.
With just one day between matches, the Tigers will look to come up with some quick answers as they return to play at home on Saturday, Oct. 13 for the first time in over one month.