The Dons rebounded nicely from their Tuesday loss to Pacific in Stockton, Calif. with two huge victories against Gonzaga and Portland on Thursday and Saturday.
Thursday night’s tilt against Gonzaga was a grueling match, as both teams duked it out until the fifth and final set. After USF came out of the gate with two set wins, the Bulldogs battled back with two victories of their own to force a decisive fifth set. However, the Dons were able to come out on top 15-11 when Junior Outside Hitter Katarina Pilepic, who paced the team with 23 kills, hit a floater that broke through the Bulldogs’ defense.
The victory was easily one of the best of this historic season by the Dons, as they dominated on both sides of the ball. In addition to Pilepic, freshman Madison Murtagh and sophomore Oluoma Okaro both recorded double digits in kills with 14 and 11, while also contributing on defense with five and four blocks, respectively. The offense and defense were further anchored by Junior Setter Kiara McKibben, who posted an eye-popping 44 assists, and sophomore libero Kim Gutierrez, who tallied 20 digs.
Satuday’s win against the Pilots ended up being much less strenuous for the Dons, as they cruised through three quick sets with scores of 25-20, 25-1, and 25-22. Pilepic again led the team in kills with 11, sharing that honor with Okaro, with the rest of the team offering a balanced attack with contributions from all over. Senior Setter Jurja Vlasic and McKibben each recorded 18 assists, while Gutierrez and Senior Opposite Hitter Sara Staengle supplied the energy on the defensive side with 14 and 12 digs, respectively.
The Dons (15-3) now continue their home stand against the Santa Clara Broncos on Oct. 9 at 7pm.
Photo courtesy of Dons Athletics