Pacific Women's Volleyball: Freshman Taeler Davis Sparks Pacific's Offense In 3-0 Sweep Of UC Riverside
Sparked by the play of their freshman setter Taeler Davis (Phelan, Calif.), the Pacific women's volleyball team overcome a slow start to sweep UC Riverside in three games on Saturday, September 25. The win was the Tigers first conference win of the season as they improved to 1-1 in the Big West and 8-5 overall while the Highlanders fell to 0-2 in the conference and 1-13 on the year.
Game scores for the match were: 25-21, 25-21, 27-25.
Looking to snap a three match skid, the Tigers got off to a slow start on the road in Riverside, Calif. as they fell behind the Highlanders early forcing them to dig out of a hole early in the match. Behind a solid wall of blocking and poor shot selection from the Tigers, Pacific found itself down 17-10 in the first game, staring at an opening game loss for the second time in conference play. However, a switch to Davis into the center of the offense ignited the Tigers on both sides of the net as the change by head coach Greg Gibbons paid off immediately. With Davis on the floor, the put together one of their best stretches of the season rolling off a 15-4 run to close out the game and capture the early lead.
With the first game in their pocket, Pacific was able to withstand potent response by the Highlanders in game two, rolling with every punch thrown to rebound with a point of their own. Tied at 19-19 in game two, the Tigers put the Highlanders away with a three point run made possible by the play of their middle blockers as both sophomore Gabby Cowden(Danville, Calif.) and freshman Jennifer Sanders (Katy, Texas) picked up kills from Davis. While the kills were their only of the game, the middles made their impact defensively by altering UC Riverside's attacks at the net, allowing the defense behind them to pick up the Highlander attacks. Outside of the late run, the Tigers picked up their offense from the outside as junior Samantha Misa (St. George, Utah) and senior Svenja Engelhardt (Sinsheim, Germany) combined for 11 kills while Misa committed just one error.
In control of the match with a two game lead, the Tigers needed a second spark off the bench to finally put the Highlanders away after UC Riverside refused to quit in game three. Down 14-9 midway through the frame, the Tigers reinserted sophomoreHannah Clancy (Thousand Oaks, Calif.) into the lineup to give the Highlanders another look from Davis and immediately took off again, rolling off a 11-1 run to take control. However, the win would not come easy for the Tigers as UC Riverside continued to fight until the bitter end, staving off four match points before Pacific put the match away on their fifth match point, ending the match on a kill from Engelhardt to win the game 27-25.
Overall, Engelhardt lead all attackers with 14 kills on 33 attacks. The senior hit .212 in the match and finished the night with a double-double on the court as she added a team-high 12 digs to the Tigers' cause. Misa finished right behind Engelhardt with 11 kills while also adding five digs, one ace and one block. IN her first extended action on the court for Pacific, Davis posted a career-high 19 assists while also adding one kill, one dig and one block. Clancy posted 11 assists in both a starting a relief role.
On the other side of the net, Kelly Simpson did all she could to keep her team in the match as she led the Highlanders with 11 kills while committing just three errors on 28 attacks. As a team, UC Riverside hit just .079 as the team tallied 31 kills and 23 errors on 101 attempts.
The Tigers will be back in action at home on Friday, October 1 when they host UC Irvine at the Alex G. Spanos Center. The game is scheduled for 7:00 pm.