Youth on Women's Volleyball Team Take Down Cal State Fullerton
With their backs against the wall, the Pacific women's volleyball team persevered and battled back against Cal State Fullerton to pick up a five-game victory on Saturday, November 12. The 3-2 win for the Tigers moved Pacific past the Titans in the Big West standings as the team improved to 17-11 overall and 8-7 in the Big West. For Cal State Fullerton, the loss dropped the Titans to 12-15 overall and 7-8 in conference play. Game scores for the match were: 22-25, 22-25, 25-22, 25-20, 15-11.
Down two games to none, the Tigers used an all-around team effort to right the ship that was veering off course and rally for an improbable come-from-behind victory at home in the Alex G. Spanos Center. Despite the electric finish that had the Spanos Center rocking by the end of the match, the Tigers nearly found themselves on the wrong end of another 3-0 sweep as the Titans opened the match with an answer to everything the Tigers threw at them, just as the 49ers had done the night before.
In game one, the Tigers held an 18-15 advantage late over the Titans, however, a slew of Tiger attacking errors and a nearly unpenatrable back line allowed Cal State Fullerton to close out the game on a 10-4 run. A game later, the Tigers changed their attack and managed to post a .389 hitting percentage in game two after hitting .000 in the opening frame only to see the Titans respond with their best hitting game of the night at .395. Pacific's attack was led by its youth as sophomores Jennifer Sanders and Megan Birch combined for nine kills in game two while freshmen Gillian Howard and Katy Tagart each picked up three kills, a piece, without committing an error.
However, Pacific's fortunes would change as the team stepped back on the floor in game three as the Tigers adjusted yet again, this time from the service line. Finding their rhythm from behind the service line, the Tigers picked up five service aces whie also forcing the Titans to play from out of system. Even with the tougher serving, the Tigers still had to claw their way past Cal State Fullerton as the two teams were locked in a back-and-forth scuffle up until Pacific broke a 19-19 tie with a 4-0 run.
Despite breaking through in game three, the Tigers were immediately brought back down to Earth as the Titans opened up game four on a 10-5 run to put Pacific's comeback hopes in jeopardy. Again facing a deficit to play out of, the Tigers immediately responded with a 7-1 run led by their senior Samantha Misa, who scored three of the seven points on a pair of kills and a service ace. The run by Misa and the Tigers proved to be of utter importance as it got Misa back into the match after struggling through the first three games.
After closing out the Titans in game four, Pacific put its foot on the gas and never looked back in game five as the Tigers jumped out to a 6-2 lead in the fifth and decisive game to put the finishing touches on their comeback. The Tigers would lead by as much as six in the game at 12-6 before the Titans rallied to within two at 13-11. However, that would be as close as Pacific would allow the Titans to get as the Tigers picked up kills from junior Hannah Clancy and Birch to put an end to the match.
Overall, Sanders and Birch led Pacific's attack with 16 kills, a piece, while Sanders led the way with a .429 hitting percentage. The sophomore middle also provided a spark defensively with three blocks, including two solo efforts, while also tallying six digs. Pacific's freshmen, Tagart and Howard finished their nights with nine kills and eight kills, respectively, while Misa ended with eight kills, five of which she picked up in the final two games of the night. Defensively, the Tigers had four players reach double-digits in digs as Clancy led the way with 19 while senior Rebekah Torres added 17, Misa added 14 and Tagart finished with 11. For Clancy, the junior setter earned her team-best 14th double-double of the season as she added 50 assists to go along with her 19 digs. She also added three kills, one ace and one block.
For the Titans, a solid defensive effort kept the Titans close throughout Pacific's rally as Cal State Fullerton tallied 103 total digs after five different players posted at least 10 on the night. Andrea Regan, the Titans' starting setter, picked up a double-double with 22 digs and 52 assists while Gabrielle Dewberry tallied a match-high 27 digs in the loss. Kayla Neto, who was coming off of an impressive 21 kills, 20 dig performance the night before, nearly matched her mark against the Tigers as she posted 21 kills and 19 digs on Saturday night. Jennifer Edmond finished second on the team with 15 kills while Ayana Whitacker added 10 kills without an error on 23 attacks.
The victory was just the second for Pacific on the year when dropping the opening game of the night. Pacific rallied from two games down nearly two months prior to defeat UC Irvine for its first conference win of the year. The win also moved the Tigers to 4-1 on the year in five-game affairs.
The Tigers will be back in action on Saturday, November 19 as Pacific takes on UC Davis in the final match of Big West Conference play. The two teams will face off in Davis, Calif. with the match scheduled to begin at 7:00 pm.