womens volleyball v. Denver

CSUF women’s volleyball gather in a huddle against New Mexico on Aug. 27. (CSUF Athletics)

Looking for the third win of the season, Cal State Fullerton women’s volleyball went on the road to Denver, Colorado, to compete in the Thin Air Challenge against the University of Idaho Vandals, the University of Denver Pioneers and the Air Force Academy Falcons.

The Titans were unable to leave with a victory over the weekend after dropping games to the Pioneers and Falcons.

Before the Titans were set to face the Idaho Vandals on Sept. 10, the game was canceled hours before the match and Idaho released a statement.

According to the Vandals’ statement, the games were canceled due to COVID-19 related protocols.

Despite the dropped match, Fullerton still went on to face the Denver Pioneers later that evening and the Air Force Falcons on Saturday at Hamilton Gymnasium in Denver, Colorado.

The Titans gave the Buccaneers a tough fight, with 35 kills and 39 digs, yet it was not enough to beat the Pioneers, as they had 47 kills and 43 digs for the match.

Denver swept Fullerton, who lost the match in straight sets against the Pioneers, dropping their record to 2-3 on Friday night.

Denver gained an early lead in the first set. Although Fullerton would keep the scores close throughout, it was the final kill from Denver’s outside hitter Lydia Bartolo who made the Pioneers victorious in the opening set.

Throughout the following set the Titans kept up with the Pioneers as they tied the score four times. At one point, a set victory looked possible for Fullerton as they got an early lead, but ultimately lost.

In the final set, Fullerton kept up the fight and was able to get the score tied at 16 points. The Pioneers continued to keep the Titans at bay and went on a 9-1 run to finish the set 25-17.

Sophomore outside hitter Julia Crawford had a strong performance as she led the Titans with 12 kills. Crawford came out explosive on the court in set one with six of her kills finding the Pioneers’ floor. This was Crawford’s fourth straight match with over 10 kills for the Titans.

Junior libero Neena Dimas finished the match with 11 digs. Alongside Dimas was sophomore setter Elizabeth Schuster, who led the Titans with 27 assists for the night. Junior middle blocker Nicole Shuhandler led the team with four blocks against the Pioneers’ offense.

The following day on Sept. 11 the Titans had a chance for redemption in their second and final match of the Thin Air Challenge against the Air Force Falcons.

The Falcons entered the match with a 0-7 record, looking for their first win of the season.

Fullerton avoided losing in straight sets for the second time, but they did lose to Air Force by a score of 3-1.

The Titans were able to produce long rallies throughout set one, but the Falcons’ offensive firepower ultimately gave the Air Force the first point of the match.

CSUF jumped out the gates in set two and gained a 10-4 lead. Air Force responded with attacks and were able to cut the deficit to one at 18-19, but the Titans were able to claim the last three points of the set which earned them a 25-22 win.

Fullerton, unfortunately, could not keep their momentum going in sets three and four. Despite leading 10-4 in the last set in hopes of battling it out in a fifth, Air Force came back to tie the score at 21.

The Falcons then went on to claim the last four points and their first win of the season.

Both teams were led on the defensive end as they completed over 55 digs each. Fullerton, however, trailed Air Force with 47 kills compared to the Falcons’ 51.

Fullerton’s Julia Crawford led the team with kills against Denver the day prior, but Crawford finished with 17 digs against Air Force.

Her teammate Lyla Traylor, who also led the Titans in blocks against Denver, led the team with 16 kills on Saturday.

Up next the Titans will return to Orange County to face Cal Baptist University in the Big West/WAC Roundup at UC Irvine on Sept. 17.

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