The Santa Ana Dons beat the Saddleback Bobcats in three sets on Wednesday, Sept. 28. Sophomore setter Kaiden Raif led the team with 27 assists, while also contributing eight digs.
In the first set, they quickly built a 16-9 lead, forcing Saddleback to call a timeout. They then cruised to a 25-20 win. The Dons maintained the lead throughout the whole set.
In the second set, the Bobcats stayed within striking distance throughout, but the Dons consistently overpowered them on their spikes as they won 25-19. Once again, the Dons broke the score open, never letting the Bobcats within four points.
To start the third set, the Bobcats built an early lead. After several lead changes, the Dons eventually controlled the game and began to pull away. The Dons won the third set 25-20.
“We don’t really get upset at each other. If someone makes a mistake, we help each other through it, rather than being hard on each other. That’ll really get you nowhere,” said Raif.
The Dons Sophomore outside hitter Alison Caswell led the team in with 11 kills and a kill percentage of .229. Sophomore libero Ines Lopes led the team with 13 digs.
The Dons are off to a blazing hot start with a record of 9-2, as well as 2-2 in conference play. The 2021 team finished 2-14 in conference and 7-16 overall. The 2022 team is currently ranked 16th in the state.
“Last year, we had a lot of girls who didn’t have a lot of experience playing volleyball. They were mostly playing for fun and experience. This year we have quite a few girls who want to keep playing, there’s more want and heart in playing. Last year we also lost a lot of girls at the beginning of the season, so we were just kind of taping it together. This year it’s more organized,” said Raif.
Raif also acknowledged that she’s seen Santa Ana’s rankings in the state “It’s pretty crazy, I don’t think SAC has ever been ranked. First time.”
The 9-2 Dons play their next game on the road against the 6-8 Fullerton Hornets on Wednesday, Oct. 5.