Pacific Women's Volleyball: Tigers Run Away From UC Irvine For A 3-0 Conference Sweep
In front of their home crowd at the Alex G. Spanos Center, the Pacific women's volleyball team put together one of their most dominating performances of the season with a 3-0 sweep of UC Irvine on Friday, October 1. With the win the Tigers improved to 9-5 overall and 2-1 in Big West play while the Anteaters fell to 4-11 overall and 0-3 in the conference. The sweep was the second consecutive three-game victory for the Tigers.
Game scores for the match were: 25-16, 25-8, 25-16.
After slow start in their past few matches, the Tigers wasted no time getting their high octane offense into full gear against the Anteaters as Pacific dominated from point one until point 75 in their quick three-game match on Friday night.
Setting up the match for what would be a trend throughout the night, the Tigers jumped out front of UC Irvine 9-0 before the Anteaters could catch their collective breath. Serving the early run for the Tigers was junior Samantha Misa (St. George, Utah) who put the Anteaters on their heels and forced them into bad hitting situations that in turn gave the Tigers early swings that they did not waste. Senior Svenja Engelhardt (Sinsheim, Germany) and sophomore Gabby Cowden (Danville, Calif.) got off to a hot start for the Tigers and never cooled off as the duo each put down a pair of kills in the first five points of the match to force an early time out by the Anteaters. In the game, the Anteaters would close to within five midway through the frame only to see the Tigers put the game away for good with a 7-2 run at 15-10 to go up by 10, their largest lead of the game.
With the Tigers looking to be clicking on all cylinders in game one, the crowd at the Spanos Center were not prepared for what was in store for them in game two as Pacific found another gear en route to their largest single game margin of victory since Division I games went to 25 point scoring and the second largest margin of victory in program history since Pacific downed Cal State Fullerton 30-11 to open their match on October 19, 2007. Jumping out to a 9-1 lead in the game, the Tigers never let off the gas as they committed just one error in 22 attacks while putting down 11 kills. Offensively, freshman Jennifer Sanders (Katy, Texas) led the way with four kills on four swings while Engelhardt continued her stellar night with three kills and no errors in eight attacks. On the other side, the Tigers forced the Anteaters into 11 errors on 34 swings while producing just four kills as the Tigers put up three team blocks while also producing 15 digs against the Anteaters attack.
Out of the extended break between games two and three, the Tigers were forced to into a small skirmish to begin what would be the third and final game of the night. After falling behind by four points early in the frame at 7-3, the Tigers would not be denied their dominating victory as they responded with a 5-1 to quickly climb back into the game. After showing her power at the net in the first two games, Engelhardt put the game's momentum firmly back into the Tigers' hands behind the service line during the run as she posted her second and third aces of the evening to kick start the rally. After trading points to put the game at 10-10, Pacific blew open the game with another big run, rolling off nine of the next 11 points to take a 19-12 lead. Cowden took her turn being the Tigers' catalyst on offense to start the run as she put down four kills in five points to put the Tigers' up 14-11, a point at which Pacific never looked back.
For the match, the Tigers put down 39 kills in 85 swings while posting a season-low five attack errors to hit .400 at the net. Engelhardt led all attackers with a match-high 14 kills as the senior committed just one error on 28 attacks to hit .464. She also added three aces, five digs and tied a career-high with five blocks. Cowden finished the night with 11 kills and no errors on 19 attacks as she posted a career-high .579 hitting percentage in the middle for Pacific. She also tallied three digs and three blocks defensively as the Tigers posted seven team blocks. Of their 49 team digs, 11 where picked up by junior Rebekah Torres (Wahiawa, Hawaii) while Misa made her presence felt defensively with 10 digs.
On the other side of the net, the Tigers held the Anteaters to just .009 hitting as they posted 25 kills and 24 errors in 107 attacks. Taylor Smith led the way for UC Irvine off the bench with seven kills while Kari Pestolesi posted five kills but also was forced into eight errors.
The Tigers will look to continue their winning streak on Saturday, October 2 when they host Cal State Northridge in Big West action. The match is scheduled for 7:00 pm.