Pacific women's volleyball: Pacific Opens Home Play With An Impressive 3-0 Win Over Idaho
Opening play at the 32nd Annual Bankers Classic, the Pacific women's volleyball team ran past Idaho, 3-0, on Friday, September 3, in their first home match of the season. With the win the Tigers improved to 3-1 overall and 1-0 at the tournament while the Vandals fell to 2-3 overall and 0-2 at the Bankers.
Game scores for the match were: 25-20, 25-19, 25-20.
Coming home for the first time in 2010, the Tigers did not disappoint the 1,228 Pacific faithful in the Alex G. Spanos Center as the young Tigers put on a show to open up their play in the tournament. Led again by their lone senior, Svenja Engelhardt (Sinsheim, Germany), the Tigers controlled play on both sides of the net to cruise to their second straight 3-0 sweep of the year. Taking the floor for her fourth Bankers Classic, Engelhardt put together her finest match of the early season, leading all attackers with 18 kills while hitting an impressive .429 from the pin.
Shaking off earlier home jitters, the Tigers took control of the opening game of the match late, breaking a 17-17 tie with a 4-0 run to put themselves ahead for good. In the middle of the run was sophomore setter Hannah Clancy (Thousand Oaks, Calif.) who dropped in one of her four kills on the night to kick start the rally and setup Engelhardt on another kill in the middle of the run. Up four, the Tigers played out the the final points before ending the first game with a kill from freshman Megan Birch (Monroe, Wash.). In the game, Englehardt put down eight kills to lead the way, however, Birch was not far behind as the freshman tallied four on six attempts from the right side.
Stepping out on the right foot with a game one victory, the Tigers did not need a mini-run in game two to pull out the victory, instead using a solid all-around attack and a dominate defense at the net to slowly build to the victory. Putting up a solid wall at the net, Engelhardt teamed up with her middle blockers, sophomore Gabby Cowden (Danville, Calif.) and freshman Jennifer Sanders (Katy, Tex.) to post three big blocks early in the game to get the Tigers off and running. Offensively, Engelhardt tallied five kills in the game to lead the way, but saw all six of her teammates around her record at least one kill in the game as Pacific posted 14 kills. In addition to her work at the net, Engelhardt tallied a pair of service aces in the game to bring her career total to 149 aces in just over three seasons, a mark which places her in a tie for No. 3 all-time in program history with Pacific hall-of-fame member, Charlotte Johansson (1991-94).
Out of the extended break between games two and three, the Tigers picked up where they left off in the opening two frames, building on their offensive success to hit their best game of the match in game three. Hitting .375 for the game and well over .400 for much of game three, Pacific flew out to a seven point lead at 17-10, putting the Vandals to far in a hole from which they could not climb. Despite a 7-2 run by Idaho that cut the Tigers lead to just two at 19-17, Pacific buckled down and put its opponents away with redshirt-freshman Natalie Robinson (Bakersfield, Calif.) behind the service line as she served three straight to push the Tigers' lead to four late in the game. In the game, the middle blockers came up big for the Tigers once again as Sanders tied for the team-lead with five kills in the game while Cowden added two more blocks to her match total. She would finish with a career-high six blocks for the Tigers.
In addition to leading the way offensively with 18 kills, Engelhardt posted a career-high four blocks on the night as Pacific ended with 7.0 team blocks. Sanders completed her night with nine kills, one short of her first 10+ kill night while birch tallied eight. Junior Rebekah Torres (Wahiawa, Hawaii) posted a match-high 11 digs from her libero position for the Tigers. In the middle of the offense, Clancy tallied 40 assists while helping her team on the scoreboard with four kills and one ace.
On the other side of the net, the Vandals hit just .185 for the match while being led by Alicia Milo who posted 13 kills. Allison Walker finished right behind Milo as she totaled 10 kills and added three blocks. As a team the Vandals matched the Tigers with 7.0 team blocks.
"The girls played really hard tonight," said head coach Greg Gibbons after the match. "We were able to spread around our offense which started with our passing. Hannah (Clancy) made better and better decisions throughout the night which allowed us to open up the offense. That openness allowed us to get Svenja (Engelhardt) going and that was it from there."
The Tigers will take on the Santa Clara Broncos on Saturday, September 4, at 7:00 pm at the Alex G. Spanos Center. The match will close out the 32nd Annual Bankers Classic with the winner deciding the tournament championship.