Seattle Pacific University's Student Newspaper

The Falcon

Seattle Pacific University's Student Newspaper

The Falcon

Seattle Pacific University's Student Newspaper

The Falcon

Volleyball endings, basketball beginnings

SPU fall sports officially close, winter sports begin conference play
Players make their way down the court in transition during a men’s basketball game between Concordia University-Irvine and Seattle Pacific University at Royal Brougham Pavillion on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023, in Seattle. (Rio Giancarlo)

As fall turns to winter, Seattle Pacific University welcomes the next quarter of its academic year as well as a new roster of in-season sports.

Soccer, volleyball and cross country completed their regular seasons in early November, and volleyball and soccer have now finished their respective championship runs.

Women’s volleyball secured their conference championship title and their place in the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division II championship tournament with a near-perfect record. They completed their regular season on Nov. 18 with a 16-2 conference record and an overall record of 22-5.

The team’s first-round game in the tournament was against California State University Los Angeles on Thursday, Nov. 30. In their first run at the tournament in 12 years, the falcons completed their season with a 3-1 loss. Head coach Jason Rhine described the aftermath of the experience.

“We accomplished a lot of what we set out to do at the beginning of the year as far as success in conference play and becoming conference champions for the first time in a long time,” Rhine said. “At the same time, we’re coming off of a loss where we went and traveled down to California, played one game and couldn’t quite pull out the win. That stings and makes us want to continue to improve and win those kinds of matches in the future.”

As the team enters its off-season, Rhine looks forward to breaking in and developing the newer players.

“We come in with all our freshmen and new players around August and they have to start playing potentially right away. That doesn’t give us as much chance to focus on their skill development and working fully into the system we have until the off-season. Getting the new players into their first off-season is always exciting,” Rhine said.

In preparation for next year, Rhine hopes to instill what led this team to success in those who will inherit it.

“The reason we’ve been able to accomplish as much as we did this year was because of how great this group is. The camaraderie they have and the energy they bring to compete is something we want to hold onto,” Rhine said. “With more new players and more freshmen coming next fall, something we want to focus on is passing this legacy onto the next group [so] they can make it their own.”

With fall sports officially closed, winter sports, such as men’s and women’s basketball, are opening up. SPU’s basketball teams started in-conference play on Thursday, Nov. 30.

The men’s team played the University of Alaska Fairbanks and lost 82-64, starting their season 0-1 and bringing their overall record to 4-7. Head coach Keffrey Fazio notes the team went in with the wrong mindset.

Seattle Pacific University Men’s basketball Head Coach Keffry Fazio looks on during a game against Concordia University-Irvine on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023, in Seattle. (Rio Giancarlo)

“Conference play is, in a lot of ways, the start of a new season … so it’s a heightened level of competition. I don’t think we quite understood that, and ultimately, we paid the price for it,” Fazio said.

Men’s basketball won their next game 80-75 on Saturday, Dec. 2, against the University of Alaska Anchorage. With this win, their starting record becomes 1-1 and 5-7 overall. This comeback revealed what Fazio believes to be the team’s greatest struggle.

“We’ve got great student athletes in our program, but when we get to the line of competition, we need to be more driven to fight for it and sustain it in times of adversity,” Fazio said. “Our ability to respond and be sustainable hasn’t been consistent. It’s one of those things where one play can snap you out of that.”

As they continue conference play, Fazio hopes the team’s efforts in practice will translate well into their coming games.

“We challenge them and put them in a lot of adverse situations in practice and ask them to handle it, navigate it,” Fazio said. “The coaches can provide a lot of insight and leadership, but some of these things need to be found within each individual on the court. When the players make their own response rather than relying on a coach to push it out of them, that’s when we’ll be sustainable.”

The women’s basketball team won both of their first two games 70-43 over the University of Alaska Fairbanks and 62-59 over the University of Alaska Anchorage, starting their season 2-0 and making their overall record 3-5. Head coach Mike Simonson was proud of his team, seeing all their hard work coming to fruition.

“We’ve been itching to get back into Royal Brougham and have a home game, keep applying and getting better at our offensive and defensive concepts, and I feel like it’s started to come together this past week,” Simonson said.

The team’s effort in perfecting their offense was evident when they achieved a season-high of 70 points against the University of Alaska Fairbanks. On the defensive side, Simonson believes the team learned its lesson on the road and applied it well in that first game.

Seattle Pacific University Womens basketball Head Coach Mike Simonson looks on during an exhibition match against Pacific (Ore.) on Friday, Nov. 3, 2023, in Seattle. (Rio Giancarlo)

“For defense, half of it is just effort, and I think our team’s starting to figure out if we play hard, good things will happen on the defensive end on its own, so I think that was the greatest lesson we had learned,” Simonson said.

Men’s basketball and women’s basketball have their next conference games on Thursday, Jan. 4, against Northwest Nazarene University. Both games will be away at the Johnson Sports Center in Nampa, Idaho. Tip-off for men’s will be at 6:30 p.m. and 4:15 p.m. for women’s.

The teams will compete in the last of their non-conference games for the remainder of December. All of men’s basketball’s non-conference games will be held in SPU’s Royal Brougham Pavilion.

The team’s next game will be against Douglas College on Friday, Dec. 8, at 7:00 p.m. Their last non-conference games will be against Linfield University on Saturday, Dec. 16, at 3:00 p.m. and against California State University San Marcos on Tuesday, Dec. 19, at 3:00 p.m.

Women’s basketball’s next non-conference game will be against George Fox University on Saturday, Dec. 9, at 2:00 p.m., in Royal Brougham. Their next two games will be on the road against Stanislaus State University and Fresno Pacific University.

The team’s final non-conference game will be against Westminster University on Friday, Dec. 29, at 1:00 p.m. in Royal Brougham.

Concluding a season run or starting a new chapter, the crux of what every team needs is dedication, confidence and teamwork. Once that foundation is found, the team snowballs into success.

“It’s not about the level of talent you have in your locker room, it’s about what your team is willing to do to win, how bad they’re willing to fight for that, and if they do that together, then they’re a special group,” Fazio said. “We’ve got all the time in the world and no time to waste.”

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About the Contributors
Uriah Aguon
Uriah Aguon, Sports Editor
Uriah is a junior English: Creative Writing major. He has been with the Falcon since his freshman year, starting as a features writer, and is now the sports editor. Uriah hopes to remain on the Falcon staff throughout his time at SPU and continue writing in journalism following graduation.
Rio Giancarlo
Rio Giancarlo, Chief Photographer
Rio is a sophomore visual communication major with a minor in photography. Rio manages a team of photographers and illustrators to supply content for the greater SPU media groups. Before he took his current position he worked as a staff photographer, mostly covering sports. When not working for The Falcon he works for the SPU athletic department and as a freelance photographer. In his free time you can find him skiing, or wishing he was skiing. 
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