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Sonoma State takes reign over the conference defeating the Wildcats

Brooke Ono (right) sets up a kill for Kim Wright (left) Photo credit: Wesley Harris

Chico State volleyball fails to take the top overall record in the conference over Sonoma State. After coming out of the gates strong in the first set, Chico could not stop the points from flowing in. Seawolves’ Kiana Richardson’s 18 kills was too much to handle for the Wildcats.

“Game one we obviously came out and played well,” said coach Cody Hein. They made some adjustments, and we had some mismatches. It didn’t matter who we put on number 6, she was hitting over us, around us, and through us.”

Grace Shepherd attempts kill over Sonoma State defender. Photo credit: Wesley Harris

Grace Shepherd led the way for the Wildcats with 11 kills. Gretta Kirkby and Kelly Jacome combined for 9 kills each with Jacome adding four blocks to her total. Kim Wright followed right behind with 8 kills.

“Once we start slipping points, there’s like a couple key points that we miss,” Wright said. “Maybe a miscommunication between players. Once that happens and it compounds, we start to lose energy. Our team is all about energy.”

They first set was positive for Chico State as they held the lead for most of the set. After creating some leverage late in the set, Sonoma went on a run to force the set to extra points. Chico prevailed to take their only win of the night 26-24.

Team celebrates after scoring in first set. Photo credit: Wesley Harris

“I think this game is on us,” Wright said. “I think we came out with the right energy and right attitude in the first game, and the second, third and fourth, we just dropped.”

The second set featured more of the same exciting back and forth action. Sonoma made a great adjustment in trying to shut down Chico’s talented group of middle hitters.

“Our middle hitters are Kim Wright and Makaela Keeve,” coach Hein said. “They’re two of our better players, so they made sure they had 2 blockers on them all the time.”

Kim Wright (left) and Brooke Ono (right) attempt a block. Photo credit: Wesley Harris

The third set became a disaster for the Wildcats as Sonoma went on an early 6-0 run to break the game open. The onslaught of points continued to flow for the Seawolves on their way to a 25-11 win.

“They were using, what we call, a right pin where number 6 plays,” coach Hein said. They were setting her up a ton and she was just getting … kills, so she exploited our block.”

Chico desperately battled to force a fifth set. They played with optimism and a scrappy attitude to try to stop Sonoma from taking the head of the conference.

Makaela Keeve rises for a kill over Sonoma State defender. Photo credit: Wesley Harris

“That’s our style of play, we like to call ourselves gritty, Wright said. “We like to call ourselves relentless because we’re able to get ourselves out of deficits like that. There wasn’t a second in that third set that I didn’t think we could come back and win because that’s all of our mindsets.”

Chico State only trails Sonoma State in the CCAA conference standings. They’re tied with Stanislaus State, a team Chico defeated twice, at 4-2. The Wildcats continue conference play against Humboldt State Saturday night at home.

Brooke Fogel rises for a serve Friday night Photo credit: Wesley Harris

“It’s going to be a mindset correction,” Wright said. The biggest thing our coach always says is to look ourselves in the mirror at the end of the night and be honest with ourselves. We’re going to wake up tomorrow, have a new day, and we’re going to win.”

Wesley Harris can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @jiggy_wes.

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