Pacific's Women's Volleyball Rally In Five To Down Portland
Facing defeat on the road at Portland, University of the Pacific women's volleyball team rallied to down the Pilots, 3-2, on Thursday, Nov. 21. The win for the Tigers moved their record to 13-15 overall and 6-11 in the WCC while the Pilots fell to 0-26 on the year and 0-17 in conference play.
Set scores for the match were: 21-25, 18-25, 36-34, 25-23, 15-13.
With their backs against the wall and facing another tough loss in conference play, the Tigers battled all the way back from the edge of elimination to stun the Pilots on the road. In what proved to be the turning point in the match, the Tigers fought off five match points in set three to right the ship and put them on the winning path.
For the Tigers the third set proved to be the longest battle in program history as the two teams forced 20-extra points to decide a winner. The previous high came in 2011 when the Tigers won a 35-33 set against Cal State Northridge at home in the Spanos Center. Throughout the fight, both teams had their chances to put the other away as it took seven set-points for the Tigers to finally finish the job on a kill by junior Gillian Howard. The junior middle picked up the final two kills of the set for the Tigers as she went five for six at the net.
Overall, the third set was dominated by sophomore Kat Schulz with nine kills on 18 swings to shake off a sluggish start for Pacific over the first two sets. Schulz led the Tigers back from an early six-point hole while picking up the go-ahead or match-saving point five times over the final with the set hanging in the balance.
After winning the third, the Tigers jumped out front in set four quickly and turned the tables on the Pilots to even the match at two sets a piece. Just like the Pilots, Pacific early lead would falter late as Portland erased a 17-13 advantage by the Tigers, even taking the lead 19-18 before succumbing to Pacific's attack. In the set, the Pacific offense was spread evenly behind Howard's team-best five kills as she again grabbed the final two kills of the set to send the match into a fifth and decisive set.
In the end, the final set was not as close as the score would make it seem as Pacific built a comfortable lead early which was enough to hold off a late charge by the Pilots. Tied at 4-4, the Tigers rolled off three-straight kills from Howard, Schulz, and junior Katy Tagart to take create separation. After the lead was cut to just one, sophomore Mia Feiner served the Tigers back out front as she kept the Pilots off balance resulting in offensive swings for Pacifc that ended with Schulz terminating the point. At the finish, the Tigers would let the Pilots back in the set with a handful of unforced errors but hold on for the win on their fourth match-point effort of the night.
Prior to the final three sets the Tigers appeared as if they were going to be swept out of the building by the Pilots who dominated play in the opening two sets. Opening the match, the Pilots hit .300 against the Tigers in the two sets they ended up winning. Leading the way was Autumn Wedan as the senior posted 10 kills and just two errors on 18 swings in the first two sets. She would finish with a match-best 22 kills on .273 hitting but it would not be enough in the end. In addition to the kills, the Pilots used the serve to keep the Tigers out of system as they produced six aces through the first two sets and ended the night nine overall. However, it was that very serve that also proved their downfall as they added 17 service errors to the mix including six critical mistakes in the third set alone.
For the Tigers, the win marked the first time on the season that Pacific rallied from down 0-2 to win a match and marked just the second true road win of the season. Overall, Schulz led the way with 20 kills, one shy of her career best of 21. She added 14 digs to complete her third-straight double-double and seventh of the season. Howard ended the match with 13 kills and three blocks while senior Megan Birch chipped in 12 kills. Tagart finished the match with a career-best seven blocks, while freshman Lexi Elman produced 15 digs. Her 13th dig of the match was her 395th of the season marking a new Pacific freshmen single-season record for digs, breaking Julie Magud's record of 394 set in 2004. She would finish the night with 397 overall.
Pacific will close out WCC action at noon Saturday, Nov. 23, at Gonzaga as the Tigers take on the Bulldogs.