Volleyball: Win Propels DVC Towards Playoffs

Viking Kelsey Awai goes up for a spike during last fridays game against Modesto Community College. DVC now looks towards the NorCal playoffs. ()

Viking Kelsey Awai goes up for a spike during last friday’s game against Modesto Community College. DVC now looks towards the NorCal playoffs. ()

With the playoffs rapidly approaching, the Vikings looked to add themselves to the list of participants with a win over Modesto’s volleyball team in four sets Nov. 14.

DVC controlled the net throughout the match and, after losing the first set, won the next three.

Before the game, sophomores Ania Tulik and Kinsea Linden were honored with flowers since this was the last home game of the season.

Head coach Jackie Poniano-Babb also returned to coach the team after missing a couple days of practice and the Nov. 12 match against Santa Rosa due to the birth of her daughter.

The defining moment of the match came during the third set when four straight spikes were turned away by the trio of Jenny Kawakami, Beverly Bruno and Tulik, resulting in a 9-4 DVC lead and Modesto burning two straight timeouts.

“I think it was a combination of us staying disciplined and reading their sets and them not having a great hitting night,” Kawakami said.

DVC came in with a 4-8 conference record and a 10-10 record overall, and was currently sitting fifth in the Big 8 Conference and tied for 15th in Northern California. Modesto came in fighting to stay afloat, having a record only better than 0-11 American River.

Modesto came out energized and eager to avenge their earlier season loss to the Vikings and got ahead early.

The momentum was all Modesto’s after the Vikings’ Kristen Kemp was long on a couple spike attempts that allowed Modesto to pull ahead 14-10 before a DVC timeout.

“We started off the match with no enthusiasm or focus in the first set,” said Poniano-Babb. “It was as if we were just going through the motions and lost focus on what our goal was for the night.”

Modesto picked up where it left off before the timeout, scoring the next six points.

Tulik would set the tone for her teammates by blocking a couple of spikes by Modesto and inciting a rally to cut the lead to 16-20, but ultimately the rally fell short and DVC dropped the first set 25-20.

“Although we got off to a slow start, we were still able to come through in the crucial moments and leave everything on the court,” said Kawakami, “We knew we had to win that game in order to make the playoffs, so we were a little nervous at first.”

The second set saw more of the same back-and-forth action, resulting in both coaches using their timeouts to regroup their teams.

The Vikings took control midway through the set, taking a 14-11 lead after a short rally and never relinquishing the lead the rest of the set.

Although Modesto gave DVC a scare late in the set, going on a small run to cut the lead to 24-22, the Vikings put the game away after a timeout, blocking a spike to take the set 25-22.

DVC consistently gave up a run of points in the middle of sets, forcing Poniano-Babb to call timeouts. The Vikings would then come out on a roll and look to put the sets away with some quick points.

“We usually do kind of have a letdown in the middle of games,” added Kawakami. “Specifically, she told us that this is it for our season, and if we want it to go on we need to go all out for every ball.”

The Vikings will travel to Stockton on Wednesday Nov. 19 but the score wasn’t available at press time.

“It would be icing on the cake if we can pull out a win,” added coach Poniano-Babb, “[but] if not, we would still come in 5th in the conference and apply for an [at-large bid’ for the playoffs.”