Pacific Women's Vollebyall: Career Efforts Lead Pacific Back Against Utah In Four
Falling behind early, the Tigers recovered to down Utah, 3-1, on Friday, September 17 in the first match of the ASU Sheraton Tournament hosted by Arizona State. The win for the Tigers improved their record to 7-2 on the year while the Utes fell to 4-6.
Game scores for the match were: 17-25, 26-24, 25-18, 25-20.
Coming off their first loss in seven matches in their previous contest, the Tigers were shocked out of the gate by the Utes as Utah jumped out to a quick 8-1 lead that Pacific would not recover from. In the opening run and throughout the game, the Tigers helped Utah at the net committing numerous attack errors that eventually totaled 10 for the first game. In addition to the Tigers' mistakes the Utes put to good use their height advantage as they posted 6.5 team blocks in the game forcing Pacific to try to hit through or around their hands at the net.
Despite the eight point loss in the opening game, the Tigers shook off their slow start in game one, revving up their offense in game two to even the match. With four kills but also six errors in the opening frame, junior Sam Misa (St. George, Utah) took control of the game and with it the match for the Tigers with a dominating effort from the pins. In the game, Misa put down seven kills and committed just one error including picking up two of the final three kills of the game for the Tigers. None of her seven kills proved bigger in the game than the one she tallied with the game tied at 24-24 as the Utes made a bid for a comeback in the contest. Right next to Misa was sophomore Gabby Cowden (Danville, Calif.) who proved to be the Tigers most consistent hitter at the net in the first two games as she followed up three kills in the first game with four more in the second.
Back to even heading into the third game, the Tigers changed their attention to the service line where they used their serve to not only score points directly but also force the Utes out of system and into mistakes. Scoring points directly for the Tigers from behind the line was sophomore Hannah Clancy (Thousand Oaks, Calif.) who tallied three of her career-high four service aces in the game. Most impressively, Clancy bookended the game with aces, starting the Tigers on the right foot from the opening point until the final point was scored. Additionally, freshman Siga Appelgate(Las Vegas, Nev.) proved to be a difference maker for the Tigers behind the line as she entered in to the game as a serving specialist up just three late and extended the Tigers' lead to six with three perfectly placed serves.
Playing for the match in game four, the Tigers would find themselves in a dogfight with the Utes as Utah did everything in their power to stave off elimination before a final run by the Tigers put the match away. However, the game would not begin with signs of what was to come as the Tigers jumped out to a 7-1 lead early before Utah rallied with an 8-2 run to even the game at 9-9. Brooke McAlister was the catalyst for the early comeback as she scored four of the Utes' eight points with kills on her way to tallying a game-high seven kills. Back to even, the Tigers and the Utes traded points with Utah staying alive on hustle and scramble plays that prolonged points long enough for them to pick up the point. Despite the efforts of Utah, the Tigers attack proved to be too much in the end as it was senior Svenja Engelhardt (Sinsheim, Germany) who took control of the game for Pacific with five kills and just one error including three of the final four kills for the Tigers.
"You have to give a lot of credit to such a young team and their resiliency to battle back after the first game," said head coach Greg Gibbons. "We made adjustments and got back to the game plan we had put together before the match and it started to work. Sam (Misa) was tremendous on the outside and our middles were great. Gabby (Cowden) had a bunch of kills and she and Jen (Sanders) started touching a lot of balls that allowed us to get to the attacks defensively."
Overall, Misa finished with a match-high 18 kills, two off her career best of 20 set against Texas A&M earlier in the season. Misa led the Tigers in hitting for the first time in 2010 as Engelhardt finished with 13 kills on the night. Joining to two outside hitters offensively was Cowden who posted her career-high at the net with 13 kills in 30 swings. She also added three blocks on the night while as a team the Tigers had 5.0 team blocks. Clancy completed the contest with 48 assists, one off of her Pacific career high while also tallying four aces and nine digs.
For the Utes, McAlister tallied a team-high 11 kills while tying with Karolina Bartkowiak who also posted 11 kills in the match. McKenzie Odale finished the match with a double-double from her setter position as she tallied 21 assists to go along with 15 digs. As a team the Utes were impressive at the net with 14.0 team blocks as they were led by Danielle Killpack's seven.
Pacific will be back in action on Saturday, September 18 at 12:00 pm in the fourth match of the ASU Sheraton Tournament. The Tigers will be taking on the host Sun Devils in the second game of the morning session.