Game Recap By Mason Nesbitt, TMU Sports Information Director
Before The Master’s University beat Hope International, 3-0, on Tuesday at home, winning for the 12th straight match, remaining perfect in conference play and improving to 22-3 overall, a question was posed to coach Allan Vince.
Would the Mustangs benefit from losing at some point in the near future as they move toward what they hope is a successful conference tournament and an automatic bid to nationals?
Might a defeat help TMU stay focused and motivated?
“I never think like that,” said Vince, whose club won by scores of 25-20, 25-16 and 25-21 and remained three matches ahead of the pack in the Golden State Athletic Conference with seven matches to go.
One reason the fifth-year coach doesn’t buy into the idea is that he feels his team has learned plenty through a winning streak that dates back to early September.
It hasn’t all come easy.
There was the third set in a breakthrough win over Westmont College when the Mustangs twice faced daunting deficits only to rally and win.
There was the five-setter at The Pit in Costa Mesa, when No. 15 Vanguard University looked poised to recover from what had been a two-set Master’s lead.
And, as libero McKenna Hafner pointed out, the Mustangs need little to stay hungry. They know the sting of defeat after last year’s 11-win season.
“We don’t have to do that again,” she said.
The Mustangs (22-3, 11-0 GSAC) mostly cruised Tuesday, improving to 8-0 at home. But even in their seventh conference sweep, Hafner said there were lessons to glean.
“It showed that we can be consistent and keep the energy and the same firepower throughout the whole match,” said Hafner, who finished with a team-high 14 digs. “That’s something that we’ve had to learn. We’ve had some roller-coaster matches.”
Jane Cisar and Madi Fay (pictured at top) helped steady the ship with eight kills apiece. As Fay emerged from the locker room, her young cousin, Kate, called out for attention.
“Watch what I can do, Madi. Watch what I can do,” she said, passing a volleyball to a friend.
It likely was her best attempt at emulating Fay’s dynamic play. During the second set, Fay smashed a ball down the line before chest-bumping Hafner. At another point, she pegged the ball off two Hope defenders and out of bounds.
“Madi just gives so much fire and energy to the team with her blocking and hitting,” Hafner said. “She’s someone we really count on to put the ball away at crucial moments.”
There was at least one.
Hope pulled within 23-21 of the Mustangs late in set three, but then it was Cisar’s turn to rise to the occasion. After a Royal error, the junior middle blocker pounded the ball to the floor to send Master’s to its 14th win over Hope in the teams’ last 15 meetings.
For Cisar, it was another efficient outing in a season full of them. She tallied one error in 15 attempts, good for a .467 hitting percentage.
She entered the night ninth in the NAIA in that category, at .361.
“Extra reps,” Fay said of Cisar. “She gets a ton of extra reps. She’s one of the hardest workers on the team. And she’s in communication with the setter nonstop.”
Here’s the box score.
“Nonstop” could also describe the Mustangs’ route through GSAC play. They will be at No. 17 Westmont College in Santa Barbara on Friday night.
The Mustangs beat the Warriors 3-0 on Sept. 15 at TMU, snapping Westmont’s 32-match winning streak in GSAC play.
Now, Master’s is building a streak of its own – one it doesn’t want to end any time soon.