Pacific women's volleyball: Pacific Takes Down Texas A&M In Five
Behind solid play along the backline defense and a stellar effort from their outsides, the Pacific women's volleyball team upset the host Aggies of Texas A&M at the Texas A&M Invitational, 3-2, on Saturday, August 27. The win was the first of the 2010 season for the Tigers as they moved to 1-1 while the Aggies fell to 1-1.
The win marked the first career Division I victory for head coach Greg Gibbons.
Game scores for the match were: 28-26, 23-25, 25-16, 19-25, 15-12.
"It felt really good to push through all five sets tonight and pull through with the victory on their home court," said sophomore setter Hannah Clancy when speaking about the team's first victory.
After suffering a tough defeat earlier in the day, the Tigers came out fighting in their second tournament game, bringing more firepower to the contest that in the end proved to be the difference. A one player show offensively against LSU, the Tigers got a balanced attack from all angles against the Aggies, led by their outsides in senior Svenja Engelhardt(Sinsheim, Germany) and Samantha Misa (St. George, Utah). In a match that they needed every last attack, the duo combined for 41 kills with Engelhardt posting 21 while Misa added 20.
"We fought every bit as hard as we did this morning," said Gibbons of the Tigers toughness on the court. "The difference is we needed more hitters to get involved and that is what we got. It is a big credit to Sam (Misa) to come back from this morning and give us what she did tonight."
In the early going of the match Engelhardt was the catalyst to Pacific's success as she slammed home eight kills on 13 attacks in the first game with only two errors. Her attacks offset the game by Kelsey Black, as the Aggies' outside hitter tagged eight kills as well to pace Texas A&M. A battle back-and-forth, Pacific found itself down 19-16 late in the opening stanza before using a 6-1 run to turn the game around on the Aggies. During the run the outside hitters each provided a kill while freshman Jennifer Sanders (Katy, Texas) added a pair. Despite the late lead the Tigers could not cruise to victory as they had to overcome a late charge and a set point for the Aggies before prevailing in extra points to take the early lead.
Despite taking away the momentum from the first game, the Tigers found themselves playing from behind for the entire second game as the Aggies put Pacific behind early and often in the game. Down by as much as seven at 18-11, the Tigers made a run at victory late pushing back to within two points at 22-20 before succumbing to the Aggies. In the game the Aggies found a more balanced attack of their own as they picked up 14 kills from five difference players. Engelhardt and Misa nearly got the Tigers over the hill from the outside as the duo posted 11 kills and just two errors in the game, but in the end the hole proved to much to climb out of.
Near the end of game two the Tigers put freshman Megan Birch (Monroe, Wash.) into the contest on the outside for a different look and saw glimpses of what would be to come from the young hitter later in the match as she put down her only attempt for her first collegiate kill. The kill was the first of seven in the match as she added four more on four more swings before coming away empty for the first time in the match. In the third game, Birch tallied four kills on seven swings without an error. With Birch sparking the offense, Pacific put on a show in the third game, hitting .320 as a team while holding the Aggies to .172. Defensively Pacific posted nine digs and two blocks in the game as the team cruised to a 25-16 win.
One game away from the match victory the Tigers found out that a victory would have to be hard fought on the floor of Texas A&M as the Aggies ran out to a 5-1 lead in the game and never looked back. Behind a poor hitting game from the Tigers in which Pacific hit just .030, the Aggies needed just 11 kills in the game to capture the match-tying contest 25-19. In the game, Black was held to just two kills with two errors on nine attacks. For the Tigers, Misa began to catch fire on offense, knocking own five kills in the set to bring her match total to 17.
Heading to a fifth and final game to decide the winner, neither team could grab an advantage on the other through the first 15 points as Pacific lead 8-6 at the turn and 8-7 at the 15 point mark. With a pair of errors by the Aggies, the Tigers pushed their lead to 10-7, before suffering another comeback attempt by the Aggies. After relinquishing four straight points and the lead the Tigers regrouped and went to work, battling back with a 4-0 run headlined by Misa who got the kill at the net to stop the run of the Aggies and then served the Tigers into the match-point.
"The fact that we kept fighting has to be respected," said Gibbons. "We still are very much a work in progress but I am very proud of the way we fought throughout the day in both games."
Overall, the Tigers were led for the second consecutive game by Engelhardt who posted 21 kills on 50 attempts. Additionally, Engelhardt got in on the defensive effort as she tallied seven digs and three blocks. Misa finished with 20 kills on 43 attempts while missing out on her first double-double by one dig as she posted nine digs to go along with an ace and two blocks. Defensively, the Tigers were balanced as they recorded 61 team digs with every player who touched the court recording at least one dig. Junior Rebekah Torres (Wahiawa, Hawaii) posted 18 digs to lead the way on the floor while freshman Jennifer Sanders (Katy, Texas) led at the net with a career-best seven blocks.
For the Aggies, Black led all attackers with 22 digs on 56 attacks. She totaled her second consecutive double-double of the tournament with 15 digs defensively while she also scored six points on serve for her team. Alisia Kastmo was the lone other attacker to reach double-figures in kills as she tallied 13 on the night in 31 attempts.
Pacific will close out play at the Texas A&M Invitational on Sunday, August 28 when the team takes on Siena at 8:00 am PST.