Seattle Pacific University fell twice in one week, first to the Central Washington Wildcats and then to the Northwest Nazarene Nighthawks.
The SPU volleyball squad had another busy week of Great Northwest Athletic Conference matchups, first traveling to CWU to take on the Wildcats this past Thursday, and then traveling to Nampa, Idaho to face NNU last Saturday.
First off, the Falcons were swept in three by the nationally ranked Wildcats. The scores were 28-26, 25-19 and 25-22.
Despite the sweep, the Falcons fought hard in the first set and pushed the Wildcats. The Falcons were down in the first set 20-17 but then went on a 4-0 run to take a 21-20 lead. CWU got back into the lead and had the game point at 24-23. However, SPU fought back and had back-to-back kills from middle blocker Hannah Lautenbach to take the lead 25-24.
Although reaching the 25-point mark, the Falcons had to win by two points in order to take the set. CWU answered back with two points in a row to take the lead at 26-25. A kill by right side hitter Colleen Hannigan tied up the game at 26-26, but the Wildcats got the next two points and won the set 28-26.
SPU’s offense at the net had a big night despite the loss. They were led by Lautenbach who had 15 kills for the Falcons. Close behind was Hannigan with 13 kills as well as outside hitter Gabby Oddo with 11 kills.
The Falcons had five more kills than the Wildcats, but CWU made 14 fewer hitting errors and hit .256 for the match while SPU only hit .167.
On the defensive end, libero Amanda Ganete led with 21 digs with Lautenbach contributing 15 of her own. Additionally, setter Symone Tran tallied 12 digs.
Tran also had 43 assists for the night, giving her 928 for the season. She only needs 72 more assists to reach 1,000 for her second consecutive year. Additionally, she is just 155 away from the 3,000th total assist of her career.
Apart from the loss, the Falcons felt good overall about their performance. “Because we were the underdogs in the game, there was no pressure on us,” said libero Katie Mansfield. “We stepped onto the court ready to go all out and play our best.”
The Falcons were then swept again by the newly renamed Northwest Nazarene Nighthawks, formerly known as the Crusaders.
The scores were 25-16, 25-19 and 25-21.
The Nighthawks, ranked No. 13 in the nation, built early and strong leads in each of the sets that the Falcons were unable to overcome.
Up 6-3 in the first set, NNU went on a 7-1 run that extended their lead to 13-4. SPU never got closer to the Nighthawks than six points.
The Nighthawks ran off five consecutive points in the second set which turned into an 8-4 lead, and they stayed in front of the Falcons the rest of the way.
In the third set, NNU was up 11-5 when the Falcons went on a scoring frenzy and ran off seven straight points. The set was then tied at 15-15, and the Nighthawks put three straight points on the board and continued on to win the final set.
Middle blocker Gabi Stegemoller had an error-free night for the Falcons with eight kills, hitting .471. She also contributed three blocks at the net. Oddo led the team in kills with 10 for the night.
Tran added 31 more assists, pushing her season total to 959 assists.
The Falcons are now 12-12 overall and 7-8 in conference play.
Looking ahead, the Falcons will welcome the Western Washington Vikings to Royal Brougham Pavilion this coming Thursday at 7 p.m. for another GNAC matchup. The final home game for the Falcons will be this coming Saturday against Simon Fraser in Royal Brougham Pavilion at 4 p.m. Seniors Hannigan, Sophie Kuehl, and Lautenbach will be honored prior to the match against the Clan.
Although their season is soon coming to an end, the Falcons are not backing down.
“Our focus at this point in the season is being in the mindset of ‘point by point.’ Our coach, Abbie, always reminds us of having a short memory,” said Mansfield. “No matter what happened during the last play, it is important to focus on the current point.”