Tigers Middles Scuttle The Pilots Ship In A 3-0 Sweep
In a day in which the Tigers played their first afternoon match of West Coast Conference play, the Pacific women's volleyball team came out on top with a 3-0 sweep of Portland on Saturday, Sept. 21. The win was the Tigers second in WCC play and fifth-straight as they moved to 9-4 on the year and 2-0 in the WCC while the Pilots fell to 0-11 overall and 0-2 in conference action.
Set scores for the match were: 25-16, 25-19, 25-18.
In a match the Tigers' were not at the top of their game, Pacific's upperclassmen stepped in and led the way as senior Jennifer Sanders and junior Gillian Howard dominated the middle of the court for Pacific against the Pilots. Quietly throughout the day, Sanders put together one of her best matches of the year as the fourth-year middle tallied a team-best 10 kills on .500 hitting while adding a trio of blocks. For Howard, the day became about closing as the junior posted nine kills and two blocks while hitting .571.
A short lived battle between the two teams would play out early in the opening set as the Tigers and Pilots traded shots through the first 26 points of the frame. Knotted at 13-13, and after seven different tied scores, Pacific would finally pull away from the Pilots with a five-point swing that gave the Tigers the breathing room they had been fighting for. Leading the rally was sophomore setter Kimmy Whitson who took over for the Tigers posting a pair of blocks and a kill for good measure. From there, the Tigers would run away with the opening win as Pacific closed on a 7-1 run that was capped by a pair of clean up kills by Howard at the middle of the net. The momentum from the opening win carried over to set two as the Tigers ran out to a quick lead that they would extend into a comfortable advantage. For every Pilot point scored the Tigers appeared to score two more to lead by as much as 10 at 17-7. The big lead would prove to be important and allow the Tigers to weather a late run by the Pilots that saw Portland close to within four before Pacific finished off the set by siding-out the rest of the way. Again, it was Howard that helped close out the set victory as the junior added a pair of blocks and a kill to help the cause.
In the final frame of the day, the Tigers broke open 4-4 tie early in set three with a 6-0 rally led by Sanders and sophomore Kat Schulz who each added a kill and a combined block. The Tigers would hold steady that lead for much of the set, pushing their lead to as much as seven and as little as four before ending the Pilots day. As she had done all match long, Howard was the one to end the afternoon's festivities as she fired off her ninth kill to post the win.
Outside of the Tigers' two middles, senior Megan Birch finished with eight kills and just one error on 18 swings while Schulz posted seven kills to go along with four digs and two blocks. Defensively, freshman Lexi Elman tallied a team-best 13 digs while sophomore Mia Feiner added 10.
On the other side of the net, the Pilots were led by Autum Wedan who posted a match-high 11 kills but hit just .024 at the net. As a team, the Pilots were held to .099 hitting compared to the Tigers' .301 clip.
The Tigers hit the road for the first time in conference play on Thursday, Sept. 26 when they head to San Diego to take on the No. 2 ranked Torreros. The match is scheduled for 7:00 pm and is the featured WCC Match of the Week on theW.tv.