With four players missing for Mountain View on Wednesday night for an important section match against Westwood, the Toros needed someone to step up to fill an important pin hitter position.
Junior setter Olivia Tukuafu took matters into her own hands, posting 24 kills, 19 digs and three aces as she played on the outside for the majority of the match.
Mountain View head coach Clark Fleming attempted to leave the team’s standard 6-2 rotation alone in the first set, with Tukuafu and sophomore setter Alyssa Austin running the offense. That first set would be the only one that the Toros dropped due to a lack of offensive firepower. Fleming chose to move Tukuafu, who proved to be a lethal hitter, to the outside and they would go on to win three straight sets to take the match 3-1.
“We needed to hit the ball a little bit more, and Olivia hits the ball pretty well,” Fleming said, justifying his change to the game plan. “We came in with a pretty lax mentality, and they punished us for it in the first set, so we needed to get it together and play better volleyball.”
Even with so many players missing for the Toros, Tukuafu had no plans of becoming the primary attacker for Mountain View, as she led the team in kills.
“I wasn’t prepared to go in as an outside today,” Tukuafu reflected. “I think I just went in with a strong mindset knowing that four of our starters were out and that I needed to help the team out as best as I could.”
On top of putting the ball away at the net, Tukuafu controlled the pace of the match by capitalizing on big service runs. Tukuafu had three total service aces on the night, two of which occurred during a 8-0 scoring run from the Toros in the 2nd set.
Mountain View as a whole was able to efficiently keep Westwood out-of-system with challenging serves. The team reached a total of seven aces on the night, which left the Warriors scrambling on offense.
“I just served the seams in between people,” Tukuafu said. “My goal there was to just serve aggressively while keeping it in.”
With Tukuafu repositioned as a pin hitter, it was up to Austin to run the offense on her own through a 5-1 rotation. The lone setter seemed unfazed, as she recorded 31 assists and was ecstatic to have her setting counterpart dominate the Toro attack.
“My hitters connected with me, and our defense was really solid,” Austin said. “It was weird, but we clicked really well tonight. It’s a lot of fun having Olivia hit.”
Behind every good setter is an even better defense, and Tukuafu led the team on that front as well with almost 20 digs. Freshman libero Jordyn Decker contributed 13 digs for Mountain View, along with a handful of other double-digit performances from the Toro defense.
As the missing Mountain View players begin to return to the lineup over the next few matches, Tukuafu expects to return to setting for the Toros.
“I don’t mind playing outside, but trying to go out as a setter for college recruiting,” Tukuafu said. “My family has a history of bad knees, so jumping is really hard on me, and that’s why I do setting. But if I got recruited as a hitter, I think I would go for it.”
Tukuafu will look to further improve her recruiting resume on Thursday as the Toros travel to Skyline to take on the Coyotes.