ANTELOPE VALLEY, Calif. (Oct. 31, 2017) – Sophomore outside hitter Alexa Lauinger (Ortonville, Mich. / Brandon) became the Caltech volleyball single-season record holder for kills and the Beavers set the record for the program's most wins since 2004 with a fourth straight season-ending victory at West Coast Baptist College on Tuesday.
The sophomore's 196 kills in 2017 surpassed the prior mark of 191 set by Colleen Moody in 2003. Entering Tuesday's game needing eight kills to tie and nine to break the record, Lauinger came up big for the Beavers with 13 to help pace her team to a 3-0 victory on Halloween. The Beavers also set a program record for most team digs in a season with 1,197 – a testament to the improvement made under Head Coach Tom Gardner, the recent influx of talent and upward trajectory of the program.
"I feel good about the progress that we made as a team this season," Gardner said. "We look forward to establishing loftier goals to set our sights on for next season."
Caltech came out firing against West Coast Baptist, a team the Beavers defeated to earn a victory in the first match of the season back in September. A first set in which they held their opponent to just 11 points set the tone for the two sets to follow. Sophomore Ellie Walker (Minneapolis, Minn. / Blake School) fed Lauinger on most of her kills as she led the Beavers with 15 assists. Lauinger, along with freshman libero Allessandra Mondello (Kinnelon, N.J. / Villa Walsh Acad.) dominated the digs department as they came up with 19 and 18, respectively. The net presence of junior Sakthi Vetrivel (Redmond, Wash. / Overlake School) was another key for the Beavers. The blocker had Caltech's only two solo blocks of the match and assisted on a block with freshman Isabell Yang (Arcadia, Calif. / Arcadia). Vetrivel also had eight kills, the second highest for a Beaver after Lauinger. Lauinger, freshman Krystyna Maruszko (Redondo Beach, Calif. / Marymount) and Yang ended each of the three sets, a further testament to the improvements made to the team this year.
Gardner and the Beavers concluded 2017 with four wins, including the program's first SCIAC victory ever against the University of Redlands last week. With milestones abundant, the program will have plenty to build on in 2018.