TMU Insider: Beach volleyball recovers quickly from loss to CSUN

Santa Clarita Christian grad Kylie Brown has been critical to TMU beach volleyball's early success. Photo courtesy TMU Athletics
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By Mason Nesbitt

For The Signal

Annett Davis did not wish to overanalyze the Mustangs’ loss to CSUN on Saturday morning. There was a pressing matter at hand – namely, a match against Cal State Los Angeles – and The Master’s University’s beach volleyball coach did not believe a drawn-out speech was necessary to motivate her group.  

“I didn’t pull them together for a talk,” said Davis, a fifth-place finisher in beach volleyball at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. “We moved on and handled business.”

That they did.

The Mustangs beat Cal State Los Angeles 3-2 on Saturday afternoon at Matador Beach Volleyball Complex in Northridge in what was another display of the team’s abundant depth.

TMU’s No. 3, No. 4 and No. 5 teams each won to lift the Mustangs to 3-4 overall on the year.

Master’s lost to CSUN, 5-0, in the morning, but the defeat did not set the course for the rest of the day.

Emilye Grace Williams and Caihannah-Jane Catabona, TMU’s No. 3 team, won their match against the Golden Eagles, 21-14 and 21-11. Williams saw it as a vast turnaround from the pair’s performance Friday against OUAZ and Vanguard.

“We had to be a lot smarter on our shots and much more proactive on defense,” she said. “We had to find the holes in the other team’s defense. Our serving was also key to get them out of system.”

TMU’s Rebecca Swenning and Kasie Spencer prevailed 21-18 and 21-10 in a matchup of the afternoon’s No. 4 teams. Swenning, who was impressed by Spencer’s defensive plays, said the match was a matter of remaining consistent.

“We didn’t need to do anything fancy except hit our shots,” she said.

For Chloe Johnson and Hannah Douglas, the Mustangs’ No. 5 team, victories by scores of 21-8 and 21-10 came because of their precision.

“We minimized our errors and were accurate with the placement of our swings and shots,” Johnson said. “Our offense was consistent, and we kept serving hard all the way through the match.”

In the morning, Johnson and Douglas pushed their opponents from CSUN to a third set. That Lauren Eknoian and Meagan Carter ultimately won 15-8 in the deciding frame did not detract from the fact that Master’s made the match closer than its 5-0 score.

TMU’s No. 1 team of Katie Emmerling and Desi Elizondo lost one of their sets 21-19. So did Kylie Brown and KettyTotemeier.

The Mustangs will now travel to Glendale, Arizona, to face Arizona Christian and Benedictine Mesa in Golden State Athletic Conference matches on Friday.

Women’s basketball matches program record for wins

On paper, The Master’s University women’s basketball team entered Saturday’s NAIA Division 1 top-10 matchup with a historically stingy defense.

Then for 40 minutes, the Mustangs proceeded to perform a live-action demonstration of how good they can be on the end of the court where they firmly hang their hat.

No. 4 Master’s beat No. 7 Vanguard 59-46, avenging a loss from earlier this season and securing a first-round bye in this week’s Golden State Athletic Conference tournament at Westmont.

The Mustangs (28-2, 16-2 GSAC) also matched the program’s record for wins in a season, a number it hopes to surpass in Santa Barbara on Friday when it plays in a GSAC semifinal.

Master’s will face the winner of Menlo (13-14, 9-9) and Vanguard (22-5, 14-4) at 1:30 p.m.  

“For us, it just means that the Lord has allowed us to continue to find success this season,” point guard Sabrina Thompson said of TMU reaching 28 wins for the fourth time in program history. “We are absolutely not done giving our best and letting the results handle themselves.”

Anika Neuman led the Mustangs with 15 points, Stephanie Soares had 12 points and 20 rebounds and Thompson, a Valencia High grad, added nine points and five assists.

But it was TMU’s energy and commitment to defense that set the tone.  Vanguard scored eight points in the first quarter and shot 35% for the game. On the year, Master’s has held 29 of its 30 opponents below 40% shooting.

“The team’s energy on defense was extremely high the entire game,” Thompson said. “We didn’t take any plays off and we made every hustle play.”

That’s been the case for most of the year. Entering Saturday, only three NAIA Division 1 teams since 2003-04 have finished a season holding opponents to a worse field goal percentage than these Mustangs.

Master’s has allowed teams to shoot 31.6%, a number bettered by only Southwestern Assemblies of God (Texas) in 2008-09, and both Oklahoma City University and Master’s last season.

“It’s been our collective effort and belief in both our systems and each other’s strengths,” said Master’s head coach Dan Waldeck.

Saturday, Waldeck highlighted the work of his perimeter defenders, a group that limited the Lions to 3-of-14 shooting from behind the arc.

The Mustangs had 10 steals, and Vanguard turned the ball over 16 times in all.

“Our middle positions on defense are always our anchor,” Waldeck said. “But when our perimeter plays like that, it makes our rim protectors’ jobs less complicated.”

The Mustang men’s basketball team also beat Vanguard on Saturday night, by a score of 79-71. Master’s, the No. 3 seed, will open its GSAC tournament at Westmont on Thursday in a quarterfinal against Hope International. Tip-off is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.

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