Pacific Grabs Another Sweep To Start The Bankers Classic
Playing for the first time at home at the Alex G. Spanos Center the Pacific women's volleyball team did not disappoint the 1,054 fans at hand as the Tigers dominated UC Riverside, 3-0, Friday, Sept. 13. The win marked the Tigers' first match of the 35th annual Community Bankers Classic where Pacific is the three-time defending champs.
Set scores for the match were: 25-17, 25-16, 25-17.
With a raucous crowd at the Spanos Center filled with their Tiger brethern from throughout the athletic department, the Tigers put on a show of force from start to finish that overwhelmed the Highlanders and led Pacific to the win. From the very first point, the Tigers clamped down on the UCR attack and never let up.
Opening the match, junior Gillian Howard and sophomore Kimmy Whitson set the tone for the night as the duo combined for the first of six combo blocks. Pacific poured it on midway through the set to take a 10 point lead at 22-12 behind four kills from senior Megan Birch who led the attack throughout. UCR would cut the Tigers' lead in half with a 5-0 run that included a pair of aces, however the run would end when freshman Lexi Elman stopped the 5-0 run with her fourth kill of set. For good symmetry, the Tigers ended the set exactly how they started it with a block from Howard and Whitson.
In set two, the Highlanders came out quickly and put Pacific on its heels and behind 6-2 digging everything in the back row from the Tigers' attack. Clawing their way back into it after shaking off the rocky start, the Tigers finally tied the set up at 15-15 before taking the lead for good at 16-15 on sophomore Kat Schulz's second of four aces during her service run. She would finish the match with a career-best six aces as Pacific blew open the set with nine straight points including two more blocks out of Howard and Whitson. Picking up where she left off in the first set, Birch tagged the Highlanders for five kills in the set to post nine with no errors through two sets.
After the break, Birch would finally make her first mistake of the night on the first swing of the third set. The mistake would not stop the senior from completing a dominating night as she would pound down four more kills to finish the contest with a match-best 13 kills on .440 hitting. As they did in the first two sets, the Tigers broke open the final set of the night with an early 6-0 run to essentially put the Highlanders away for good. Pacific extended its lead to as large as nine at match point before finishing the match on Schulz's 11th kills of the night.
Overall, Birch led the offensive attack for the Tigers that hit .250 as a team with 38 overall kills. Defensively, the night was dominated by Elman who posted a career-best 19 digs in just three sets and just missed her third straight double-double after posting nine kills. Howard and Whitson each tallied seven blocks on the night with Whitson's seven tying her career best.
The Tigers are back in action on Saturday, Sept. 14 when they play their second match of the Classic at 12:00 pm. Pacific will face Winthrop which posted a 3-2 win over San Jose State to start off the night and the Bankers Classic.