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Women’s volleyball team misses playoffs, sends off seniors

Nick Reddy

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Senior volleyball players from left to right in the bottom, front row being honored on Senior Night in Acker Gym: Lindsay Quigley, Emily Duran, Ellie Larronde, Lauren Orozco and Kristyn Casalino. Photo credit: John Domogma

The roller coaster ride known as the 2014 Chico State women’s volleyball team’s season ended this past weekend.

The squad was swept by the California Collegiate Athletic Association’s regular season champion Sonoma State on Friday, but turned right around to claw out a five-set victory on Senior Night Saturday over San Francisco State.

With their longest winning and losing streaks each only three matches long, the Wildcats experienced both the highs and lows of a 26-match season.The ‘Cats were only swept five times, the first two being the first and second matches of the season at the Seattle Pacific University tournament. Cal State San Bernardino, CCAA conference title champions for the past eight seasons, swept the ‘Cats twice this season. On the other side of the stat column, the ‘Cats had six sweeps of their own.

Following their three-match losing streak in early October, the Wildcats alternated winning and losing for the rest of the fall in a span of 11 matches.

The team said goodbye to five seniors: Kristyn Casalino, Ellie Larronde, Lindsay Quigley, Lauren Orozco and Emily Duran. Despite never reaching the playoffs in their careers, each senior left their mark in the Chico State volleyball record book.

Earlier this season, defensive specialist Duran became just the sixth player in Chico State history to eclipse 1,000 digs. She will exit the program in third place all-time. She also ranks third in digs per set.

Fellow defensive specialist Orozco ranks seventh in digs per set despite not playing this season due to injury.

Middle hitter Quigley concludes her four-year career with the best hitting percentage in Chico State program history while also ranking sixth in kills with 1,051. She also ranks in the top five for total sets played in program history and top seven in blocks. Quigley, a chemistry and biochemistry double major, has also excelled in the classroom. She was recently named her second straight 2014 Capital One Academic All-District Volleyball Team.

Fellow senior middle hitter Casalino set a new Chico State single match record this season when she posted a career-best 13 kills on just 15 attempts for a .862 hitting percentage.

Outside hitter Larronde ended her career among the ‘Cats’ top 10 for kills and is also among the top 10 in solo blocks and attack attempts.

One player who didn’t play her final Chico State match was sophomore Torey Thompson. The All-American setter finished her second season of orchestrating the Wildcats offense with 1,100 assists. Thompson matched her 11.46 assists per set average from 2013.

“It’s been a tough journey; we’ve had our highs and lows but we just kept working hard,” said David Irving, a first-year assistant coach. “You lose some and you win some.”

Duran didn’t let missing out on the postseason spoil the end to a great career.

“I’m sad we never got to go (to the playoffs),” Duran said. “This year we kind of knew for a while we weren’t going to make it. I still feel really lucky for everything else I’ve gotten out of my experience here.”

She mentioned how the team’s late season pattern of winning a single match being immediately followed by a loss was irksome.

“It was hard because every time we felt like we were picking up some momentum and doing good and building, it was a setback after that,” Duran said. “But I’m glad we finished the season with a win.”

She was glad for the chance to play with her fellow seniors in Acker Gym for the final time, especially with Larronde, she said. The senior outside hitter had suffered an ankle injury the previous week.

“We didn’t even think she was going to be able to play at all, so it was just really cool to be out there one more time with her,” Duran said. “Especially because there was one last play with her, Lindsay and I where Ellie went up and got a great kill, and Lindsay (in) the next play got a great block.

“Even though it’s so disappointing she didn’t get to finish out the match, I’m glad we had those last couple plays together,” she said. “We came into this together so it was nice to have those plays at the end.”

Looking back on her four years, aside from just playing the sport she loves, she will miss her teammates the most, Duran said.

“I’m gonna miss the girls,” she said. “All these girls are my best friends. We are like a family and I love every single one of them. It will be really weird not being around them 24/7.”

Nick Reddy can be reached at [email protected] or @NickIsReddy on Twitter.

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Women’s volleyball team misses playoffs, sends off seniors