The Master’s University Mustangs women’s volleyball surged through multiple big runs in Saturday’s match with the Ottawa University Arizona Spirit.
The Mustangs won the Golden State Athletic Conference match, 22-25, 25-19, 25-12, 25-15, and are now winners of three straight.
The Mustangs (15-10, 5-6) ran wild in the third set and sent the Spirit (13-11, 4-7) completely into disarray. It appeared to be another tight set as the two teams were tied early before the Master’s explosion. TMU erupted on a 17-1 run, scoring 13 unanswered points at one point.
Ottawa appeared a little out of sync and was forced to burn both of its timeouts early, down 12-4.
TMU outside hitter Faith Tarver led the way for the offense and steadily improved after a slow start. Tarver registered 19 kills, two kills away from her career high, while also adding 16 digs and five blocks on defense.
Everything clicked during the Mustangs’ run. The team served in tough spots, blocked well and was lethal on the attack. Ottawa couldn’t catch a break and an ace from TMU libero Sierra Hale ended the wild set.
Hale led all players with 29 digs.
The Mustangs re-created the magic in the fourth set and caught fire on an 11-0 run. Outside hitter Ruby Duncan got the run started with one of her 11 kills and also added one of her two aces during the span.
Senior Cora Machado also came alive during the run and, like Tarver, added two kills. Machado’s presence was felt on the net as she was quick to get hands on the majority of Ottawa’s attacks.
Machado finished the day with seven kills and four blocks.
The Spirit looked like it was well on its way to another sweep of the Mustangs after the first set. Outside hitter Madison Wampler tallied four of her 11 kills in the opening set while setter Cristal Carrizoza gave TMU’s serve receive fits with her tough serve from nearly 20 feet behind the end line.
Carrizoza finished the night with 38 assists, 13 digs and two aces.
TMU head coach Annett Davis saw her team come alive in round two with the Spirit after being taken out in three sets nearly one month ago.
“In round one with Ottawa, we might have had one hitter that hit positively,” Davis said. “That’s tough when the outsides that you set the most don’t get kills. I think tonight, obviously, that was a big difference for us.”
Tarver believes the team’s mentality has improved tremendously since the straight-set loss in Arizona.
“I think our mindset was different,” Tarver said. “One hundred percent, everyone was locked in and dialed in.”
The Mustangs’ serve receive and passing were solid all night. The minor hiccups the team had were no problem for junior setter Timberlee Miller. The junior led the offense to victory on a clean day with just one ball-handling error.
Miller finished the match with 41 assists and was key to four Mustangs registering seven or more kills.
Tarver was able to improve throughout the match. After two early hitting errors and a measly .077 kill percentage in the first set, the outside was without a hitting error through nearly all of the final three sets as she consistently hammered the ball down.
TMU evened the score in the second set after Davis reaffirmed a simple game plan of hitting outlined spots on the court.
“At the beginning, they weren’t really hitting the spots we were asking them to so we kept reinforcing that,” Davis said. “They did and they did a good job once they started executing the game plan and it worked.”
TMU is gaining momentum at the perfect time. Davis would like to see a few more wins before the team heads into the GSAC Tournament in November. The Mustangs will have matchups with Menlo College and Jessup University before then. TMU dropped its first match with each of those two conference foes and will have the chance to split matches with more GASC opponents.
“We really want to make it to the GSAC Championships,” Davis said. “It’s going to take us continuing to win. We can’t afford to lose at this point. So I think the reality has set in, how we set ourselves back the first part of the season and now we actually have to perform and play well. They’re doing it, though, and they’re doing a great job.”
In the meantime, TMU will take a week off before heading to Hope International University in Fullerton to take on the Royals.
“I’m hoping to see us continue to communicate and hopefully see us continue to be on fire,” Tarver said. “We have to have that urgency and pull strong so we can win the GSAC Tournament. That’s what we want to do.”
TMU heads to Fullerton to take on Hope International on Saturday at 2 p.m.