After hitting the ground running in the NCAA tournament, sweeping Pacific Lutheran (20-6) in Thousand Oaks (25- 13, 25-15, 25-22), Chapman’s women’s volleyball team (24-6) burned out Saturday when it ended its season with a 3-0 loss against Puget Sound.
A long and widely successful season came to an end for Chapman, but the team is happy with what it accomplished.
“Even though we didn’t have one of our strongest games to end the season, I think we had a very good season,” said Head Coach Mary Cahill. “[Puget Sound] played really well and we didn’t play one of our better matches.” The team couldn’t get in sync to pull off a win against tough-serving Puget Sound.
“It’s kind of how sports goes,” Cahill said. “You try to make sure you play consistent, but sometimes it doesn’t work.”
Junior outside hitter Jenny Gibson said the Panthers’ inability to pass well was their downfall in the final match.
“Obviously it starts with passing, we have to pass well to play well,” she said. Chapman had a difficult start, with Puget Sound racking up six points, leading Cahill to call a timeout.
“We didn’t serve very well, we were down 6-1,” Cahill said. “I just reminded them that we’re a good team and that’s why we’re there so they should just relax and play.”
Although the team managed to rack up 18 points, the Loggers kept the Panthers at bay by claiming the first set (25-18).
“I think in the first game, we were still a little nervous. People were tense on the court,” Gibson said. “That’s kind of why we struggled to earn points. In the second game, we woke up and fought back.”
Tension arose in the second set, which went into extra points, although Puget Sound was able to win 28-26.
Gibson said the loss was due to Puget Sound’s skilled serving.
“We put up a good fight, but in the end, it just went the other way,” she said. “The other team served really tough and it was hard for us to return the ball.”
The third set saw the Panthers struggling to control the Loggers, but the efforts was too little too late. The Loggers won 25-22, moving on to the West Region Championship match.
“We try to think positive thoughts, but at the same time you’re thinking of all the what-ifs,” said junior libero Carleigh Mueller. “We’re known for fighting until the very end. We just couldn’t pull through.”
The Panthers easily dominated the first two sets before beating Pacific Lutheran 3-0 Friday, with a mix of tough defense, effective passing, and good offensive hits.
“We knew this team would have huge blockers, so we practiced just covering our hitters,” Buckendorf said. “Our passing was on as a team and our offense got really good hits. I was proud of my defense.”
Pacific Lutheran had the Panthers tied at eight in the first set, but Chapman turned it on and ran away with the set. Senior middle blocker Laura Posada also credited teamwork as the key to success in Friday’s game.
After a tough weekend, the Panthers end their season short of their championship hopes. Posada, outside hitter Ashleigh Gideon, middle blocker Allix Miller, outside hitter Jenny Gibson and middle blocker Kate Ferrin are the graduating seniors and will hang up their Panther uniforms for good.
Junior setter Corrine Ostrovsky looks toward the team’s return to the court next year.
“Losing our seniors will hurt us a lot,” she said. “But we’re going to come back and use this fire from this loss and come back and do better.”