JUCO Volleyball: Rams fall to CCSF 3-2

Rams outside hitter Samantha Nydam (5) attempts to hit the ball past City College of San Francisco Oct. 26 at Gavilan College.

GILROY—While confidence kept Gavilan alive in Monday’s game against City College of San Francisco, it was also the team’s downfall.
The Rams clawed their way back from a eight-point deficit to get the team within three points of a victory, but just couldn’t close the game out. CCSF notched a kill and an ace to best Gavilan 3-2 in Gilroy. The Rams lost 21-25, 25-19, 17-25, 25-21, 12-15.
“We came out thinking losing isn’t an option and then we didn’t close out,” Gavilan sophomore setter Erica Chapa said. “We need to learn how to roll with the blows and fight and keep going when we’re attacked.”
CCSF took a 12-4 lead in Set 5. Errors and poorly placed balls allowed the Rams back into the game. Stellar serving from Val Rodgers supercharged the comeback as she served up two aces, hitting all the right spots to get her team within a point.
“Rather than getting nervous, she went after it,” Rams coach Kevin Kramer said. “She just said ‘jump on my back and I’ll get you there’ and she did. It’s great to see from a freshman that she can step up and put us in a situation like that.”
The Rams found themselves playing catch-up for most of the night. In Set 1, they went on a 7-2 scoring run, highlighted by kills from Alexia Balistreri, Courtney Borja and Samantha Nydam as well as an ace from Chapa to cut CCSF’s lead to 18-17. Nydam nailed two more kills before the set’s end and was complemented with blocks from Greer Watson to tie the game at 21-all. Gavilan then committed two errors and hit the ball out before CCSF notched an ace to take the first set.
“When a team gives us a fight, we need to learn to overcome it and not just back down,” said Borja, who tallied six kills for Gavilan.
The two teams fought for dominance in Set 2 as neither could lead by more than three points until Gavilan finally broke away. Balistreri sparked a 6-1 scoring run with a kill. Watson stood guard at the net with two more blocks, while Nydam and Madison Hartman added kills and Chapa an ace to give Gavilan a 23-18 lead. Back-to-back CCSF errors closed out the set for Gavilan.
Once again, the Rams found themselves trailing 10-7 in Set 3. An ace by Hartman and kills from Chapa, Balisteri and Nydam got them within one, 13-12, before the visitors pulled away. CCSF scored six points—three off Rams miscues—to Gavilan’s one to close out the set.
Gavilan held a four-point lead, 16-12, midway through Set 4. The visitors capitalized on the Rams’ errors to claim the lead at 20-18 as they looked to end the game. A key block and kill from Balisteri helped tie the game at 21-all. CCSF hit the ball out and committed back-to-back errors before Chapa closed the set out with a kill to force a Set 5.
“We have a lot more potential than what we showed,” Chapa, who had 35 assists, three aces and five block assists said. “We’ve got to start putting all the puzzle pieces together. We know we’re getting better and we know we’re getting stronger, it’s just a matter of performing at game time.”
Nydam led the Rams offensively with 14. Hartman added 10 kills and two aces. Rodgers served up three aces for the Rams, while Watson racked up two solo blocks and four block assists.
Gavilan (11-9 overall, 5-1 in conference) will be back in action at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Chabot. Before then, Kramer said he’s hoping the Rams can dig deep and find the drive they lacked in this contest.
“(We just need to) find some heart, in all honesty,” the Rams coach said. “We’re in the right spot; we just need to make some plays and be mentally tougher.”
“(We just need to) find some heart in all honesty,” the Rams coach said. “We’re in the right spot; we just need to make some plays and be mentally tougher.”