Pacific Women's Volleyball: Tigers Rally, But Fall In Five To UC Davis In Confernce Play
In their first home Big West Conference match of the season, the Pacific women's volleyball team battled through a rocky start against UC Davis on Thursday, September 23, in front of their home crowd at the Alex G. Spanos Center. Despite forcing the match to five sets, Pacific dropped the decision to UC Davis, leaving the Tigers with a 7-5 record on the season and a 0-1 record in conference play. With the win the Aggies improved to 9-4 overall and 1-0 in the Big West. The loss marked the second straight year in which the Tigers fell in their conference opener to UC Davis.
Set scores for the match were: 25-22, 25-16, 20-25, 13-25, 16-14.
In the early serves of the first set, the Tigers struggled to get into their offensive system as their passing game proved to be off the mark to start the match. After starting the set in a 10-4 hole, the Tigers came out of their first timeout strong, scoring two straight points before another Aggie Rally put them back behind 16-9 midway through the first frame. A second timeout proved to be the energizer for the Tigers, however, as Pacific came firing back at UC Davis with four straight points, bringing the score back to 16-13. Thanks to a 13-6 run, the Tigers nearly battled their way all the way back into the set after trailing by as much as nine points closing to within one at 23-22. However, after an Aggie timeout, UC Davis finished put to rest the Tigers bid for a full comeback in the game by closing out the set with two straight points to win 25-22. The near comeback in game one would foreshadow the ending of the match for both teams.
Junior Samantha Misa (St. George, Utah) started the second set off right with a Pacific point from behind the service line, but a Tiger ball-handling error changed the momentum back to the Aggies. From there, UC Davis proceeded to score four straight before the Tigers regained possession only to gain it right back on a Tiger attack error. A game of cat and mouse ensued as the score went back and forth between UC Davis and Pacific, as both teams remained within three points of each other. The Aggies managed to go up 14-10 midway through the set, and although the Tigers tried to keep it close following a timeout, UC Davis ran away the set in the end to take a dominating 2-0 lead over Pacific.
The Tigers proved that they would not go down quietly, however, and came into the third set ready to fight. Pacific scored the first point of the set and kept the momentum going as they pulled ahead 5-1. The Tigers continued the offensive attack as they went on a 5-2 run to make it 10-3. The Aggies slowly crept up on the Tigers, going on a 4-1 run of their own to make the score 11-7, but the Tigers weren't fazed. Pacific pulled ahead 14-7 behind kills from senior Svenja Engelhardt (Sinsheim, Germany) and sophomore Hannah Clancy (Thousand Oaks, Calif.). After an Aggie timeout, the Tigers wasted no time scoring first. An electrifying Misa kill made it 21-13 and, although the Aggies tried to rally back, the Tigers took the set 25-20. Misa proved to be the difference maker in the set for Pacific as she rebounded from hitting woes in the first two games to put down six kills in 11 attacks with no errors.
Misa began the Pacific scoring in the fourth set again, but the game remained close as both teams battled for the lead. After going ahead 6-5, frustrations mounted for UC Davis as a yellow card was issued to the Aggie's head coach. An Engelhardt kill ignited Pacific and Clancy kept the rally going as Pacific took a 13-10 lead. After a Pacific timeout, Engelhardt initiated a 7-0 run before the Aggies responded with two points. A Misa kill transferred the energy back to Pacific as the Tigers roared past UC Davis 25-13 in the fourth set. Again, Misa was dominant from the outside as she matched her third game total of six kills, needing just 10 kills to get there while committing no errors.
The intensity was tangible as both teams prepared to battle it out in the fifth set. Junior Rebekah Torres (Wahiawa, Hawaii) served to put the Tigers up two, but Engelhardt proved to be the force that pushed Pacific forward. Engelhardt's strong attacking brought Pacific up 6-2 before a UC Davis timeout. After the break in action, Pacific started strong with two straight points before switching sides and led 9-3 in the set before UC Davis could answer. However, the Aggies would respond, posting a 8-1 run to put the Tigers on their heels as they were looking up at the Aggies for the first time in three sets at 11-10. The battle turned into a war as both teams fought it out, point by point. After pulling ahead 14-13, Pacific saw UC Davis win two of the next three points on the next three serves to defeat Pacific 16-14 in the final set.
The Aggies finished the match hitting .236 as a team with 58 kills and 21 errors on 157 attempts. Defensively, UC Davis posted 70 digs in five sets. Alison Whitson led all attackers with a match-high 18 kills while committing just four errors. Morgan Borch, Melanie Adams and Katie Denny all reached double figures in kills as they totaled 13, 11 and 10 kills, respectively.
Pacific hit .192 as a team with 63 kills and 29 errors on 177 attempts. Engelhardt and Misa led the team with 17 and 13 kills, respectively. Engelhardt also added a season-high four aces as the Tigers had nine aces in the match. Freshman Jennifer Sanders (Katy, Texas) put together a solid performance in the loss as she totaled 10 kills and just three errors in 26 attacks. Clancy finished the match with her sixth double-double of the season and third consecutive double-double after tallying 47 assists and a team-best 14 digs. In the final two sets, there were a total of 13 tied scores and six lead changes.
Pacific will be back in action on Saturday, September 25th as the team travels to Riverside, Calif. to take on the Highlanders of UC Riverside. Game time is 7:00 PM at the UC Riverside Student Recreation Center. Listen live at www.pacifictigers.com.