By Breezh Nunez, Nov. 16, 2021
What started off as a close game quickly turned around as the Broncos won three straight sets against Stanislaus State at Kellogg Arena on Nov. 11. Now ranked 19th in the nation, the team is one game away from heading into the CCAA Championship Tournament.
The Broncos, now 21-3, have been on a winning streak topped off by their seventh win in a row. The match against Stanislaus State began at a quick pace, as the Broncos obtained a close score of 25- 22 in the first set. However, the Broncos executed their signature playing style in the next two sets, earning scores of 25-15 and 25-21.
Head Coach Traci Dahl was thrilled but expectant of the team’s consistent performance throughout the match. Although Stanislaus State’s playing style proved difficult to adapt to at first, she said the Broncos did a stellar job adjusting their defensive strategies accordingly.
“Our hitters produce and we started serving a lot tougher in the middle of the match,” said Dahl. “In the beginning we weren’t serving as tough and they were passing a nice ball, but we then started to put more heat on the ball and got them out of system, which is what we needed.”
The team has significantly developed its ball dispersal skills as well as its kill rate during matches, according to Dahl. A kill is an offensive attack tactic that is un-returnable for the opposing team, and immediately earns the offensive side a point.
“One thing that we have really been working on is getting our middle blockers involved and that’s something we weren’t doing in the beginning of the season that we’re doing now,” said Dahl. “Last weekend we had four people in double digit kills, which is what you want.”
After playing 24 matches throughout the 2021-2022 season, the team has tremendously increased their exhibition of determination and confidence, according to sophomore middle blocker Kaitlan Tucker. She believes these key improvements have carried the team through conference play.
“We’ve worked so hard all year to have that team chemistry to now where it’s just effortless,” said Tucker. “We always feel the support for one another as everyone goes out there and plays their role.”
Like Tucker, senior setter Kira Zimmerman attributes the team’s success this season to their signature aggressive playing style and solid collaboration on the court. She explained that the team has also been working on a few defensive tactics which gave them a competitive edge against Stanislaus State.
“I think we have really good eye contact on the team when we really need each other,” said Zimmerman. “We’re always constantly touching and hugging each other after every play. When you really need it, you know there’s those few players out there that you can get that support from to snap you back into it when you’re short on yourself.”
Competing in the CCAA semifinals on Nov. 19, Tucker hopes to see her team maintain the same energy they have been exerting all season as they transition to the tournament.
“I hope we stay true to who we are, but continue to elevate, continue to do every little thing better and just go in there ready to win and never underestimate ourselves regardless of the competition,” said Tucker. “When we go further off into these playoffs and we’re playing teams or players that may be ranked this or that, it doesn’t matter and I just hope that no matter who we play, we bring the best version of ourselves and be ready to beat anyone.”
To follow the Broncos’ CCAA progress, visit the Bronco Athletics website.
Featured image by Breezh Nunez
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