Pacific Women's Volleyball: Engelhardt Takes Control For The Tigers As Pacific Downs Northern Arizona, 3-0
Despite a sluggish start and an upstart Northern Arizona team that refused to quit, the Pacific women's volleyball team came away with its second win of the day at the Wolf Pack Invitational on Friday, September 10 as the team downed the Lumberjacks 3-0. The win was the sixth in a row for the Tigers an improved their record to 6-1 on the year. The Lumberjacks fell to 4-5 with the loss.
Game scores for the match were: 25-18, 25-18, 25-23.
Looking to keep their record perfect at the tournament, the Tigers ran into some trouble against the Lumberjacks as the young Northern Arizona squad kept the Tigers on their toes throughout the match before Pacific was able to put them away with late runs in each of the three games. The biggest struggle for Pacific came in the third and final game of the evening as the Lumberjacks refused to go down quietly as they pushed the Tigers to the brink before finally succumbing to Pacific's last ditch push towards victory.
"It isn't always pretty," said head coach Greg Gibbons. "The girls have to find a way to get it done in the end and that is what they did."
Coming off of their first win over a ranked opponent outside of the Big West since the 2003 season earlier in the day, the Tigers found themselves trying to shake off the adrenalin from the upset victory and refocus on Northern Arizona. The refocusing proved to be more difficult than the Tigers thought it would be as the Lumberjacks hung tough behind their sophomore middle blocker Jen Wilson. Wilson kept the Lumberjacks close in the opening game as she dropped in four kills in eight attacks with no errors, but her singular attack was not enough in the end. The Tigers turned a close game at 14-14 into a comfortable win with a 5-0 run by forcing the Lumberjacks into multiple mistakes at the net as they altered every attack by Northern Arizona.
Again struggling to find their offensive rhythm in game two the Tigers fell behind 10-5 early in the second frame. However, the Tigers would not be denied as they turned up the pressure at the net defensively, turning the game around with a stream of blocks and an offensive onslaught by senior Svenja Engelhardt(Sinsheim, Germany). Making sure her young team did not let the game slip through their hands, Engelhardt was nearly perfect at the net on the attack in the game as she recorded seven kills in 10 swings with no errors while also adding two big blocks including a solo effort that helped kick start the mid-game rally.
Despite the two game lead, the Tigers could not put the Lumberjacks away without a fight in game three as Northern Arizona stuck with Pacific until the very end, even holding a 23-22 lead late. Down to the final points in the game, the Tigers continued to press taking full advantage of a service error by Northern Arizona to knot the game at 23-23 before serving out the game and the match. Again it was Engelhardt who propelled Pacific to the win as the senior served out the final two points including picking up a service ace to give the Tigers the 24-23 lead and a try at match point.
"We were down one late in the third game and we needed the sideout," said Gibbons about the final game of the match. "We needed that sideout and we got it. We came back and did what needed to be done. Now we need to refocus and get it together for tomorrow."
Overall, Engelhardt led the Tigers with a match-high 17 kills and just four errors on 36 attacks for a .361 hitting percentage. The senior also added 11 digs for her first double-double of the season while tallying three blocks and one ace to her totals. Freshman Jennifer Sanders (Katy, Texas) finished the night with a solid all-around effort as the freshman middle blocker tallied seven kills and tied her season high with seven blocks. As a team the Tigers hit .257 with 45 kills while defensively posting 11 team blocks and 38 digs.
For the Lumberjacks, the lone gunner throughout the contest was Wilson who finished one of the match lead with 16 kills. The sophomore only made two mistakes in the game on 26 attempts to finish with an impressive .538 hitting percentage. As a team Northern Arizona hit just .070 on 30 kills, 23 errors and 100 attempts.
Pacific will play for the tournament championship tomorrow when the Tigers take on the host Wolf Pack of Nevada in the finale of the Wolf Pack Invitational. The game will be played at 2:00 pm.