Pacific Women's Volleyball: Dig For A Cure A Success As Pacific Sweeps UC Riverside
On a night in which the Pacific women's volleyball team wore pink uniforms in support of breast health awareness in their "Dig for a Cure" match, senior Svenja Engelhardt took the dig part of the event to heart as she recorded a career-high 20 digs in Pacific's 3-0 sweep of UC Riverside on Friday, October 22. The impressive showing by the Tigers netted them their 13th victory of the season as they improved to 13-8 on the year and 5-4 in Big West play while the Highlanders fell to 2-20 overall and 0-8 in the conference.
Game scores for the match were: 25-11, 25-15, 25-18.
Kicking off play in the second half of their Big West Conference schedule the Tigers wasted little time getting on the right track for their final run towards the top of the standings as they needed just over an hour of playing time to dispatch the Highlanders at the Alex G. Spanos Center.
In what turned out to be the most lopsided game of the evening, the Tigers dismantled UC Riverside in game one as they went through just a rotation and a half to score the 14 point victory. In the game, Engelhardt helped break open the game behind the service line as she turned a 5-3 Pacific lead into a 12-3 advantage, serving eight straight points and picking up two of her three service aces on the night. Additionally, she forced the Highlanders into tough offensive situations with her serve that led to easy offense for the Tigers. Junior Samantha Misa was the biggest beneficiary of the transition offense for Pacific as she pounded down a game-high five kills on 10 swings while freshman Jennifer Sanders was right behind in the middle with four kills on eight attempts.
After running away with game one, the Tigers had a little trouble getting off and running in game two as Pacific's passing game struggled to open up the frame allowing the Highlanders to stick close through the first 15 points. However, after refocusing their energy to more precise passing, the Tigers began to pull away from UC Riverside, turning a one point lead at 8-7 into a five point advantage on the precision serving of redshirt-freshman Natalie Robinson. UC Riverside would only climb as close as four points for the remainder of the game while Pacific would finish on a 5-0 run, again on the serve of Robinson. Pacific's defense played a major part in the success of game two as the Tigers posted 20 digs, led by Engelhardt's six, while holding the Highlanders to just three kills on 33 swings and -.182 hitting.
With the match solidly in hand heading into what would be the third and final game, the Tigers again started off with a tug-of-war fight with the Highlanders in game three, even trailing by two at 9-7 before flipping the switch and running away from their competition. A 4-0 run by the Tigers after trailing by two turned the game in Pacific's favor while a steady dose of small runs throughout put the contest away. After posting just three kills in the second game, the Highlanders rebounded with 12 kills, but also eight errors, in the final game. However, the Tigers saved their best hitting game for the finale as Pacific committed just one error in game three on 30 attacks while knocking down 13 kills to hit .400. Engelhardt led the way in the game with five kills and no errors on eight attacks while still keeping her defensive play at its highest level recording eight of the Tigers' 16 digs in the game. Misa finished right behind Engelhardt with four kills in the game while also picking up a point with her serve midway through the game.
Overall, Engelhardt posted her fourth double-double in her last five matches as she tallied a match-high 13 kills to go along with her first ever 20 dig effort. Engelhardt recorded one more dig than her previous career best of 19 digs which was set earlier this season in a five-game marathon at Long Beach State. In addition, the senior tallied a match-high three service aces while also adding two blocks for an all-around stellar night. Misa finished one off of Engelhardt's pace as she tallied 12 kills and just two errors on 28 swings for a .357 hitting percentage. Sanders added seven kills and three blocks while sophomore Gabby Cowden and freshman Megan Birch led the way at the net defensively with four blocks.
The Highlanders finished the night hitting just over .000 as they were held to .010 hitting with 22 kills and 21 errors on 100 attacks. Amanda Vialpando posted a team-high seven kills on the night while also adding 12 of UC Riverside's 42 team digs.
The Tigers will be back in action on Friday, October 29 when they travel to Northridge, Calif. to take on the Matadors of Cal State Northridge. The match is scheduled for 7:00 pm at the Matadome.