Tigers Take It In Five, Downing Oklahoma At PSU Tournament
Picking up where they left off last season, the Pacific women's volleyball team persevered in a marathon match to down Oklahoma, 3-2, on Friday, Sept. 6, to start the Portland State Tournament. The win for the Tigers was their fourth of the year as Pacific improved to 4-2 while handing the Sooners (4-1) their first defeat.
Set scores for the match were: 27-25, 20-25, 16-25, 25-22, 15-12.
Last season the Tigers played an NCAA record 14 five-set matches and were 9-5 in those matches.
In what may go down as a classic and signature match for the Tigers, Pacific found a way to come back from the brink of defeat and take down one of the top teams in the nation. Down 2-1 and coming off of their worst loss of the night, the Tigers ran off back-to-back wins to take their first five-set victory of the season.
With the race to 15 on in the fifth and decisive set, the Tigers did what they had done all night long, comeback from down at the turn to come away with the win. Down 9-7 after the turn in set five, the Tigers rallied to win eight of the final 11 points, including rolling off four straight to turn an 11-10 Sooner lead into a 14-11 advantage in their favor. During the run, Pacific used their young pins to do the damage as sophomore Kat Schulz and freshman Lexi Elman each picked up kills to give the Tigers three shots at match point. With the match on the line, Elman's number was called once again as the freshman buried the final kill of the match for the Tigers.
The duo for the Tigers came up with the big kills throughout the night when Pacific needed them most as Schulz ended her night with a season-high 16 kills while Elman added a career-best 14 kills. The duo also got it done defensively as the pair each posted a double-double in the match with Schulz adding 16 digs for her second double-double of the year while Elman posted 15 for her first ever double-double effort.
The fifth set was made possible for the Tigers after the two sides split the first four sets with Pacific bookending a pair of wins by the Sooners in sets two and three. The first win for the Tigers in the opening set was a microcosm of the entire night as Pacific fought back from a late 22-17 deficit to stun the Sooners. Down five, the Tigers won 10 of what would be the final 13 points to take the set. In the set, Pacific never led until taking a 26-25 lead after fighting off a pair of set points.
In both sets two and three, as they did in set one as well, the Sooners jumped out front of the Tigers early, but instead did not let go of their stranglehold. Oklahoma used a string of mini runs to take out the Tigers in the second set while it was a 10-0 run at 8-8 in the third that buried Pacific and put the Tigers on the verge of defeat. In the third, the Sooners outhit the Tigers .348 to -.086. Despite the loss in the third, Pacific quickly recovered and turned the tables on the Sooners in the fourth set, hitting .333 while building a late five point lead that would hold up in the end.
Overall, the Tigers' offense was orchestrated by sophomore Kimmy Whitson who had a career night at the helm. Whitson finished the match with a career-high 55 assists while also posting seven kills on 15 attacks. Additionally, she added nine digs, two aces, and one block. Outside of Schulz and Elman, senior middle Jennifer Sanders posted a season-best 13 kills while junior Gillian Howard led the blocking effort with four.
Oklahoma saw their senior leader, Sallie McLaurin post 19 kills on 43 swings while hitting .419 while Kierra Holst added 16 kills. As a team, the Sooners outblocked the Tigers 13.0-to-5.0 led by Micaela Spann's match-high seven. However, the Tigers used a solid serve that involved nine aces to keep Oklahoma out of system much of the night.
Pacific is back in action 10 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 7, as the Tigers take on Utah State at the PSU Tournament.