Pacific women's volleyball: Huge Comeback Nets Pacific The 32nd Annual Bankers Classic Title
Down two games to none, the Pacific women's volleyball team rallied to defeat Santa Clara, 3-2, on Saturday, September 4, to take home the 32nd Annual Bankers Classic championship trophy at home in the Alex G. Spanos Center. The win improved the Tigers' record to 4-1 overall and a perfect 2-0 on the tournament while the Broncos fell to 4-2 overall and 1-1 at the Classic.
The tournament victory was the Tigers first at the Bankers Classic since the 2007 season. It was their 17th overall championship in the 32 year history of the tournament.
Game scores for the match were: 20-25, 20-25, 25-22, 25-18, 15-9.
"It feels great to win that match and the tournament," said sophomore Hannah Clancy (Thousand Oaks, Calif.) after the match. "After the second game we stopped thinking about them and worried only about our side of the net. We wanted to bring the energy back to the match which we didn't have earlier and when we did, everything fell into place."
Falling behind with losses in the first two games, the young Tiger squad had to dig deep within to find the fight that would eventually win them the match and the championship over the Broncos. Out of the extended break between games two and three, the Tigers stepped on the court a different team than had played the opening two games of the night. The lone constant throughout the night for the Tigers was Clancy who proved to be the difference-maker for Pacific as she flew around the court on both sides of the net throughout the night. For the match, Clancy picked up her second double-double of the season with 49 assists and 20 digs while she also added six blocks, four kills and two aces to lead the Tigers to victory.
In game three, the Tigers used a late push to flip the momentum of the game and the match into their favor. Down three at 14-11 midway through the game, the Tigers rolled out a 9-2 run on the Broncos to grab control of the game. Central to the Tigers' run was their defense at the net as the team picked up a pair of blocks to tie the game and then take the lead while also touching almost every attacking ball by the Broncos to allow Pacific to transition into its offensive attack. At the heart of the defensive stand was senior Svenja Engelhardt (Sinsheim, Germany) and sophomore Gabby Cowden (Danville, Calif.) as the duo combined on both blocks with freshman Megan Birch (Monroe, Wash.) jumping into to help out on the first block as well.
With the momentum of taking their first game off of the Broncos, the Tigers roared out to a huge early lead in game four, burying Santa Clara early under a 9-1 onslaught to secure the game victory early. Serving the Tigers to the big lead was junior Samantha Misa (St. George, Wash.) as she initiated the first five points of the match for the Tigers while the Broncos helped the Tigers with four attack errors. Never looking back from their early lead, the Tigers closed out the game by relying on the same player they relied on to start the game as Misa pounded down one of her four kills to force the fifth and deciding game. In addition to Misa's big game, freshman Jennifer Sanders (Katy, Texas) righted the ship from a tough first three games as she dropped in four kills and added one block to the Tigers' cause.
Tied at two games a piece, the Tigers would not be denied their comeback bid and their tournament championship as the again stormed out to a quick lead, capturing a 6-1 advantage in the shortened fifth game. Looking for her first Bankers Classic title since her freshman season, Engelhardt led the Tigers' attack in game five, tallying three kills on five swings including picking up the first two kills on the game to get Pacific out and running. Fittingly for the Tigers, Pacific ended the match at on the defensive side of the net as Cowden and tournament Most Valuable Player Hannah Clancy combined to shutdown the Broncos last ditch effort to prolong the match.
Prior to winning the final three games, the Tigers fell behind two games to none as the Broncos controlled the match, shutting down Pacific's offense while outworking and outhustling the Tigers. Kaleigh Durket and Tanya Schmidt provided the offense in the first game for the Broncos as they each tallied five kills each and committed just one error in 15 combined attempts. In game two, the Broncos put the Tigers away midway through the game as they turned a 10-10 tie into and 18-13 advantage behind a balanced attack and a multitude of mistakes on Pacific's side of the net.
For the night, the Tigers were led by Engelhardt offensively as the senior put down 23 kills on 55 swings. She added five a career-high five blocks in the match to earn all-tournament honors. Joining Engelhardt on the stat sheet with double-digit kills was Misa who tallied 12 kills on 51 attempts after a slow start in the match. Additionally, Misa posted her first double-double of the year as she posted 11 digs. Defensively, the Tigers posted 14 team blocks bolstered by Cowden's career-high seven on the night. Junior Rebekah Torres (Wahiawa, Hawaii) continued to impress at her new position of libero as she tallied 24 digs en route to all-tournament honors.
For the Broncos, four players hit the 10+ kill plateau on the night with Kaleigh Durket posting a team-high 19 kills. She also posted 12 digs for the double-double while Emily Burke also had a double-double on the night with 42 assists and 19 digs. Dana Knudsen added 12 digs while Tanya Schmidt tallied 11 and Kayla Lommori had 10.
The all-tournament team featured three players from both of the championship match participants as Clancy (MVP), Engelhardt and Torres represented the Tigers while Knudsen, Schmidt and Burke represented the Broncos. Allison Walker was named to the team as the representative from Idaho, which finished third in the tournament.
On her tournament MVP award Clancy stated, "It is honor but it definitely was a team effort to win that match. It wasn't just one player that was the most valuable player instead it took our whole team, all 12 of us both on the court and on the sidelines."
The Tigers will be back in action on Friday, September 10 when they take on the No. 24 ranked Wildcats of Arizona at the Nevada Tournament. The match will be played at the University of Nevada, Reno campus and will begin at 10:00 am.