Volleyball: Dons Make Epic Comeback, Defeat Santa Clara 3-2

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Throughout the early portion of the 2013 season, the Dons have had to overcome numerous obstacles, but the team has already shown some serious resilience. This was evident in their most re- cent game, as the Dons came back from being down two sets to zero in Santa Clara to win 3-2 in improbable, comeback fashion. After San Francisco lost the first two sets by the scores of 20-25 and 17-25, it stepped its game up tremendously and swept Santa Clara the rest of the way by winning 27-25, 28-26, and 15-8.

USF had numerous players con- tribute to its victory. Junior middle blocker Valentina Zaloznik and freshman opposite/outside hit- ter Katarina Pilepic, two players who were named to the Aztec In- vitational All-Tournament Squad in mid-September, were both key to the victory in Santa Clara. Za- loznik had 12 kills and nine blocks, while Pilepic led the team with 14 kills. Pilepic also added eight digs to her impressive night. Other dominant players included senior setter Mackenzie Murtagh with 26 assists and sophomore outside hitter Ester de Vries, who had 15 digs.

“It was just an amazing performance, and I couldn’t be more proud of the team,” Head Coach Gilad Doron told usfdons.com. “It wasn’t necessarily a good day for individual performances, but as a team it was really amazing. They never gave up and gave everything they had to fight their way back.”

With the victory, the Dons are now 6-7 overall. Their record in the West Coast Conference is 2-1 after the end of their first conference- play road trip. USF had previously defeated Pepperdine on the road after losing at Loyola Marymount. Overall, this was a positive road trip for the Dons, and they also achieved something that had never happened in USF volleyball his- tory: Defeating Santa Clara and Pepperdine on the road in the same season for the first time ever.

“With the early WCC results across the league, we are seeing that anybody can beat anybody on a given night,” Doron told usfdons.com. “These two wins show that we’re responding to all the adversity early in the season, and hopefully it will build even more confidence and belief in our system and our team as we face our next challenge.”

USF hopes to build upon its rising success when it takes on Gonzaga on Oct. 3 at War Memorial Gymnasium at 6 p.m. Now that the Dons have proved that they can compete with anyone, the rest of the year looks to be very exciting. San Francisco will be looking to turn more heads in their direction, as the team has begun to garner that kind of respect with much of the regular season still left to be played.

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