The Falcons fell short twice this past week to Alaska Anchorage on Thursday and then to Alaska Fairbanks on Saturday.
Previously, the SPU volleyball squad had been very successful in matches that went to the limit. However, the Falcons were not able to put away the fifth set of either of the two matches.
First off, the Falcons faced the Alaska Anchorage Seawolves at Royal Brougham Pavilion last Thursday night.
The Seawolves won the first, third and fifth sets while the Falcons won the second and fourth. The scores were 25-22, 25-23, 25-22, 25-22 and 15-6.
With close scores the entire match, it came down to who could control the ball longer in the fifth and final set. The Seawolves got the better of the Falcons and were able to take a commanding lead in the final set to win the game.
Despite the loss, middle blocker Hannah Lautenbach put up her 1,000th point during the second set. In volleyball, a player gets one point for every kill, solo block and service ace, and a half point for every block assist. She is onlythe 16th player in SPU volleyball history to achieve this honor. For the night, she had eight kills, six blocks, and an ace contributing towards her 1,000th point scored.
Outside hitter Gabby Oddo slammed home 21 kills accompanied by 15 digs and a block. Teammate outside hitter Olivia Turner also contributed five kills herself.
On the defensive end, outside hitter Mallie Donohoe and libero Sophie Kuehl passed up 18 and 10 digs respectively.
Additionally, setter Symone Tran dished out 36 assists for her team.
Despite the loss, Coach Abbie Wright is faithful in her team’s ability to continue getting better. “We focus on continuing to get better by at least 1 percent every day,” said Wright. “I want to challenge our kids to practice harder than the opposing team and to push each other to mentally make practice more important than games. This is where the real work is put in, and then the games are a time we can collectively show, players one through 16, the body of work we have put together through practice.”
Saturday night was another tough fought game for the Falcons as they welcomed the Alaska Fairbanks Nanooks to Seattle.
The Falcons started off the match strong by winning the first two sets, but the Nanooks stormed back to win the final three sets. The scores were 25-22, 30-28, 25-17, 25-15 and 16-14.
The second set alone consisted of about 15 ties and 8 different lead changes, signifying how close the match was.
The fifth set was a nail-biter as the lead went back and forth between the two teams. Ultimately, Markie Miller of the Nanooks had back-to-back kills to secure the match for Fairbanks.
Launtenbach had another big night for the Falcons, slamming home 20 kills and nine blocks. Oddo was close behind with 15 kills and four blocks.
Teammates Turner and middle blocker Shaun Crespi also added 13 and eight kills respectively.
Tran put up 51 assists for the Falcons along with 14 digs. This is Tran’s 40th double-double in her career.
Lautenbach, Oddo, Tran and Donohoe dug up 19, 16, 14 and 14 digs each.
At this point in the season, the Falcons are entering the second half of their conference play. “Going into the second round of conference, I’m confident our girls will take away the highs and lows of the first round to really set themselves up for a great start to the second half,” said Wright.
Libero Amanda Ganete commented as well on the squad’s focus for the remainder of the season. “There are three aspects that we are really focusing on for games here on out. The first is first ball contact. We have been really focusing on making good touches on the ball so each successive play after is that much easier,” said Ganete.
“The next aspect is something we call ‘point for point.’ This means that whenever our opponent gets a point, we work extra hard to get the next point to prevent the other team from going on runs. The final aspect we have honed in on is respecting each team we play by not playing up or down to their level. No matter who we play against, we will always play our game, regardless of how skilled we perceive our opponents to be.”
After this past week, the Falcons are now 10-10 and 5-7 in the GNAC.
Looking forward, the Falcons will hit the road and travel to Lacey to play against Saint Martin’s University on Tuesday night. Then, the Falcons will be back at home to take on the Montana State Billings on Saturday, Oct. 28, in Royal Brougham Pavilion.