Dons unable to overcome own mistakes, lose to Chargers

Setter Madeline Castillo sets up middle blocker Jenna Hoppe for a kill attempt. Photo by Nicholas Wire / el Don

Santa Ana College lost to state-ranked Cypress College in a 3-0 sweep Friday, in which they were outscored 75-52. They lost in order: 25-23, 25-8, and 25-21.

The Chargers brought a new challenge for the Dons that they hadn’t seen before. For Cypress, 18 different players saw time on the court, while Santa Ana only had eight.  

Cypress,  ranked 10th in the state by the California Community College Athletic Association, now sits third in the conference with an overall record of 12-3.

“Going up against a team like Cypress, they’re always a big competitor in our conference,” said setter Taylor Vagana. “They’re always a team to watch out for. [They] can be a little intimidating. This was the first round, the first time we’ve seen them. We’ll see what happens in the second round.”

The Chargers continuously rotated fresh legs onto the court and were extremely loud off the bench when chanting. For example, after every SAC timeout, the Chargers bench would yell “O.T.O.T.O.” which broke the Dons focus.

“They have a strong culture…not everyone has played against a team as loud as that. But that’s what volleyball’s about. It’s all mental, regardless of their chanting, we’re supposed to be prepared for that,” said Vagana.

Santa Ana wasn’t athletically outmatched like they were against Irvine Valley College on Sept. 22. SAC became fatigued quickly.

However, for this match, Santa Ana faced a new problem with a lack of communication, which led to on-court collisions and spacing issues. SAC also struggled consistently with serve-receive, giving away momentum with free points.

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“We weren’t able to execute when needed. We’re stuck in rotations. We weren’t able to side out quickly,” said head coach Myriah Kunipo-Aguirre. 

The Dons hope to clean up communication and service errors before the rematch with the Chargers on Nov. 8.

“It’s hard. Where do you even start?” said Vagana. “We have to go down to the foundation, rebuild before the second round starts. it was a bad representation of who we are and how we usually play.”

Middle blocker Roxanne Costello argues a call with the referee and gets awarded the point. Photo by Nicholas Wire / el Don

The Dons are currently seventh in their conference and 4-9 overall. They play next at Riverside City College on Wednesday, Oct. 11. The Tigers sit fifth in conference and have won two straight.

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