Vets Save The Day As Pacific Downs LMU, 3-1
Playing in front of their alums from the great Tiger teams of old, the Pacific women's volleyball team came up with some magic of their own as the Tigers took down Loyola Marymount (LMU), 3-1, on Saturday, Oct. 12. The win for Pacific snapped a four-match skid and and moved 10-8 on the year and 3-4 in the WCC while the Lions fell to 8-9 overall and 3-5 in conference play.
Set scores for the match were: 25-23, 15-25, 28-26, 25-15.
After a slow start the match is set one, the Tigers asserted their dominance at the net as junior Gillian Howard took commandeered the net for Pacific. Playing in her first rotation through the front, Howard locked down the Lions' defensively as the big junior middle picked up right where she left off a match prior. A match after recording a career-best 10 blocks, Howard threw down the gauntlet once again recording four blocks while adding three kills to lead Pacific in the opening set. However, the Lions were able to take advantage of the three rotations in which Howard was out of the match as LMU battled back from down 17-11 to force Pacific into a fight as they knotted the contest at 23-23. Despite the Lion comeback, the Tigers would not be denied as Howard blocked her fifth ball of the frame to help seal the deal and send Pacific to the first set victory.
The battle that was the end of set one spilled over into set two as the two teams traded big runs to begin the frame. For LMU, the Lions opened the set by winning six of the first seven points only to see the Tigers climb back with a 4-0 run. However, as fast as Pacific could battle back, the Lions had a response as they rolled off a four-point run of their own to reestablish their five-point advantage. From there, LMU pulled away to bury the Tigers and even the match at one set apiece.
After giving up a 5-0 run and trailing 21-16 late in set three, all appeared to be lost for the Tigers as the Lions looked to run away with yet another set. Despite the punch in the mouth, a key substitution for the Tigers turned the tides of the contest and with it, the match, as senior Megan Birch entered the set to save the day. Cold off the bench, Birch hammered down four straight balls for Pacific to give the Tigers the 22-21 lead. From there, the two teams traded points with the Lions even taking a shot at the set up 24-22, only to be denied. On Pacific's third try, sophomore Kat Schulz got the swing and put away the set-winning kill.
For Pacific, the big comeback and win in set three set the Tigers up for a runaway win in what would be the fourth and final set of the night. From the start of the set to the finish of the match, there was no doubt as to who would come away with the win as Pacific opened with a 6-1 run and never looked back. Throughout the set, Pacific led by as much as 12 at 24-12 before finishing off the Lions for good. In the set, the Tigers posted their best hitting performance of the night by hitting .389 led by Howard's 5-for-8 effort in the middle and Birch's 6-for-10 effort at the pin.
Overall, the night was won by the inspired play of Birch who finished with a team-best 12 kills on .500 hitting despite playing less than half the match. In the middle, Howard grabbed 10 kills on .391 hitting while tallying a match-best eight blocks. Just behind Howard was senior Jennifer Sanders who tallied seven blocks while also adding six kills. As a team, Pacific set a new season-best mark at the net with 16.0 total blocks. With the vets leading the way, the young Tigers found their way as well as Schulz ended the match with 10 kills on .364 hitting to go along with two aces, two blocks and nine digs. Freshman Lexi Elman added 16 digs to the Tigers' cause while sophomore Kimmy Whitson finished with 42 assists, six kills, seven digs and three blocks.
For the Lions, the night was dominated by Kathleen Luft who posted 18 kills on 44 swings. Amber Mirabello and Felicia Arriola each added in 11 kills to LMU's totals while Litara Keil posted eight kills to go along with five blocks. Entering the match as the conference's top attacking team, the Lions were held to just .185 hitting while Pacific finished the match hitting .259.
The Tigers will hit the road for a pair of matches in the Bay Area next weekend beginning on Thursday, Oct. 17 at Santa Clara. The match is scheduled for 7:00 pm and is theW.tv Volleyball Match of the Week for the WCC.