Comeback Falls Short As Pacific Falls In Five To Santa Clara
Battling back from down 2-0, the Pacific volleyball team forced a fifth and decisive set only to fall in the finale to Santa Clara and drop the match, 3-2, on Saturday, Nov. 16. The loss dropped the Tigers' record to 12-15 overall and 5-11 in the WCC while the Broncos improved to 10-15 on the year and 5-11 in the conference.
Set scores for the match were: 25-18, 25-22, 23-25, 21-25, 15-12.
Despite another season-best effort out of senior Megan Birch, the women's volleyball team was unable to come up with the come-from-behind victory as the Tigers dropped their fifth-straight five-set match. Continuing her epic weekend of offense, Birch tallied 22 kills on .340 hitting to finish one kill shy of a career best effort. Throughout the day Birch was the go-to hitter for the Tigers as she kept Pacific afloat while the rest of the Tigers' hitter found their footing in the match.
However, despite Birch's best efforts, the Broncos had just enough answers around every corner as Santa Clara began the match hot offensively and never cooled off. Matching Birch swing for swing throughuot the day, Taylor Milton came out on top in the end as she posted a match-best 24 kills on .457 hitting.
As she had done all day for the Broncos, Milton picked up four kills early for the Broncos in set five to turn around a quick start by the Tigers before Megan Anders put the Tigers away late from the middle. The 6-4 middle tallied five kills on five swings late in the set, including the final two kills on the afternoon as Santa Clara took the 5-4 lead early in set five and never relinquished its grip on the frame from that point on.
Overall in set five the Broncos hit a team-best .435, capping off the hottest hitting day for any team against the Tigers in 2013. From start to finish the Broncos never hit under .315 in a set and ended the day hitting .374 overall despite Pacific entering the match as the top defensive team in the WCC.
In the opening two sets, the Broncos used quick starts and hot hitting to put the Tigers behind early. Compounding the problem for the Tigers was a sluggish start offensively as Pacific hit just .150 in set one and .268 in set two. The lone Tiger to get things rolling early was Birch as the senior posted nine kills in the second set after recording two in the first.
Out of the break and down two sets, the Tigers offense finally found its way in set three as Pacific hit .381. Behind 13 combined kills out of their pin hitters, the Tigers were able to establish a 24-19 lead late against the Broncos to set up their first set victory. However, the Broncos made the set interesting with their own attack as Santa Clara fought off four set points before sophomore Kat Schulz ended the rally with her team-best fifth kill of the frame.
In the fourth, the set came down to which team would get that last swing as both offenses were at their best. Clicking on all cylinders, the Tigers were able to outlast the Broncos in set that saw both teams hit over .400 as Pacific tallied 19 kills and just three errors while hitting .485. Leading the way was junior Gillian Howard as the middle grabbed six kills on just seven attempts. She put together the most critical sequence of the set for the Tigers late as she posted a kill and an ace the turned a late two point lead into a 22-18 advantage for Pacific.
Howard finished her day with a season-best 15 kills on .333 hitting while adding three blocks to Pacific's defensive efforts. For her all-around efforts on the day, Schulz picked up her sixth double-double of the season and second-straight after tallying 15 kills and 10 digs. Getting the call off the bench, redshirt-sophomore Anne-Sophie Bauer recorded 10 kills on 22 swings while hitting .364 while freshman Lexi Elman tallied 20 digs defensively. Playing on her birthday, freshman Alicja Wilk posted a career-best 14 digs as she put together her best defensive effort of the season.
On the other side of the net, the Broncos saw four players join Milton in double-digits kills with Nikki Hess recording 17 on 44 swings. She also added 15 digs to pick up the double-double as one of four Broncos to record 10+ digs in the match. Outside of Milton and Hess, Sabrina Clayton added 12 kills while Anders and Haley Cameron each recorded 11 kills from the middle.
Pacific begins roadtrip with a match at Portland at 8 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 21.