The Chapman women’s volleyball team lost at home to first-placed California Lutheran University 3-1 on Tuesday, Oct. 18, before ending its final home games of the season with 3-0 wins against Oberlin College (7-14, 1-5) and the California Institute of Technology (2-18, 0-13) on senior night Saturday Oct. 22.
Cal Lutheran (21-4, 12-2) topped the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference last year and swept the Panthers (12-12, 6-8) at a match earlier in the season. Despite the loss, head coach Mary Cahill said that errors held the Panthers back.
“I thought we played pretty well,” Cahill said. “We had some opportunities to put a little more pressure on them but they’re No. 5 in the nation, so I think we were hoping to catch them off guard and I think we did, but we kind of made some errors.”
While the Panthers were able to get in an early lead in every set and even managed to win the first one 25-17, the Regals came back every single time and claimed the other sets 25-21, 25-20 and 25-22.
Cahill credited the team’s effort against a difficult opponent.
“I just hope they see that they played with the fifth team in the nation, so when we play the rest of our games in the season, they need to realize they can play with the top teams and step it up against the others,” Cahill said.
After the loss, Chapman responded with a pair of home wins on senior night Oct. 22.
Cahill credited the team for carrying the momentum from the first game into the latter.
“We played well this morning which carried over to tonight,” Cahill said. “We were able to get everybody in our conference match tonight and it’s good to give the players that experience.”
During the conference match against Caltech, the team comprised of a rotating number of players on the team who don’t generally get a chance to play. Members like junior opposite Kylie Cooke and junior co-captain and middle blocker Abby Smith were seen on the sidelines cheering their fellow teammates on.
Sophomore middle blocker Lauren Friend said the senior night atmosphere added to the team’s energy.
“It was a great energy coming into this game,” Friend said. “Being senior night, we were able to have fun, give the seniors some love and let them rack up their kills.”
While the Panthers outmatched Caltech 25-8 and 25-12 in the first two sets, during the third set Caltech was able to take an early lead, which Chapman later caught up to and ended up winning 25-21.
Although a doubleheader sweep was a great end to the day, the victory was bittersweet for the Panthers as they were sending off two senior outside hitters, Casey Brown and Meghan Nelson.
“It’s crazy, when I first started I was like, ‘four years is a long time,’ but now that it’s come to an end, it went by so quickly,” Brown said. “But it was a great four years and I love all the girls.”
Nelson also echoed Brown’s bittersweet sentiment.
“It’s sad that my volleyball career is coming to an end, but I’m glad I got to play on a team for all four years of college,” Nelson said. “It was great being on the court with my girls tonight.”
According to Nelson, the team has great potential with strong playing from the sophomores and great leadership from the juniors.
“It was a great last game to end on,” Brown said.
Chapman has two more games left in the season, both away games at 7 p.m. First the Panthers travel to Whittier College (9-15, 5-8) on Tuesday, Oct. 25 and then close out the regular season at the University of Redlands (12-12, 3-11) on Friday, Oct. 28.