The TUN Matadors were stymied in their attempt to keep the “Golden Spike” in Nevada as they fell to the TUC Bulls in the annual volleyball game held on the California campus.
The Matadors generated the early momentum by taking the first game of the best-of-five match, quieting the rowdy California crowd. Led by Coach Robert Askey, the Matadors did an excellent job of utilizing their entire roster and creating big plays.
The Bulls, behind their thunderous home crowd, took the second game to even the match. TUN jumped out to a 9-3 lead to open the crucial third game, but TUC came roaring back to win the third game, taking a 2-1 lead in the match.
“I think it gets in your head a little bit,” said TUN player and Physical Therapy student Kalin Ashby of losing the critical third game. “TUC did a great job of hanging on in those games where we jumped out ahead.”
Needing to win the fourth game to stay alive, TUN staved off the raucous TUC charge and evened the match at two games apiece. Ashby credited the TUC crowd for being loud enough to alter TUN’s communication strategies during the game. When his teammates called out for help, he struggled to hear them over the TUC crowd.
“TUC had a lot of energy in this gym tonight, which I think carried them through some of the tough times when they were down,” Askey said.
In the fifth and final game, the Matadors were out front 8-5 before the Bulls came fighting back. Just like the story went in the third game, TUN couldn’t close the door on TUC, who won the deciding game, 15-12.
After the final point had been secured, the TUC team jumped in celebration while the home crowd went berserk. It was a tough pill for TUN to swallow, though Askey was proud of his team for their perseverance and ability to push the match to five games.
“We thought we had some really good matchups that we took advantage of, but there were some opportunities we didn’t cash in,” he said. “They brought a good team this year and made more plays than we did. I’m proud of our team for the way they played. I knew coming in that California would need to play very well to beat us, and they got us.”
Ashby echoed his coach’s sentiment, and praised TUC for its stifling defense that took a few TUN players out of the equation.
“We just couldn’t put it away. They played really strong defense, and it makes it hard to win when they’re putting your best hitters in a tough spot,” he said. “It was a hard-fought battle, but sometimes things just don’t go your way.”