The women’s volleyball team thought the game was over at the end of the third set. They were five points behind in the set, and two sets behind Vanguard University – but Chapman came back to win the next two sets before being losing the final one.
“We’re not used to seeing the bigger hitters in conference games and in practice too, so it was just a fun game to come in here and watch them warm up and play like we had nothing to lose,” said junior defensive specialist Sara Utsugi. “In the end, they’re a great team and I think we put up a good fight.”
Vanguard started off strong Oct. 6, winning the first two sets without much pushback from Chapman until the final moments of the third set.
“We realized were in our home gym, we were flowing, and we wanted to show what we were capable of in our last game before the second part of our season,” Utsugi said. “We had to stop playing with fear. Once we did that, we were able to get into a groove and start playing like ourselves.”
Going into Friday’s match, Chapman did not know what type of contender Vanguard would be, and Utsugi says these kind of games mean that it’s time to focus internally.
“For games when you don’t know anything about the other players, it’s all about worrying about yourselves, and what we can do,” Utsugi said. “For us, we’re visualizing before the game and just getting ready and doing our normal routines and trying to not think about what they are going to do.”
The Panthers, still 5-3 in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and now 11-7 overall, have suffered three losses in a row, including three conferences matches, since losing to Pomona-Pitzer College at home Sept. 30.
“It’s been a while since we played that smoothly,” said head coach Mary Cahill. “I think that the people that stepped in did a great job. But our conference is tough, and it’s always tough to play in other people’s gyms.”
Chapman’s next game is at 7 p.m. Oct. 10 at Whittier College, kicking off its second round of conference play.
“I think serving tough and blocking are the really big things we need to bring in the future,” Cahill said. “I think we did a good job of that tonight and now we need to continue that.”