Expectations high as Pacific volleyball prepares for season
After finishing last season with its most wins since 2014 and a first-ever appearance in the National Invitational Volleyball Championship quarterfinals, Pacific volleyball has lofty expectations for the upcoming season, buoyed by veteran leadership and a strong recruiting class.
“It’s a new season, and expectations are at an all-time high,” Head Coach Greg Gibbons said. “We have a healthy roster of many returning players and an incredible recruiting class to help us reach our goals.”
Gibbons enters his 14th season and has compiled 204 wins, third most in program history.
Veteran experience highlights the new season, with 11 players returning. Senior Alexa Edwards, fifth-year Biamba Kabengele, senior Darina Kumanova and senior Ramonni Cook are the team’s top returning offensive standouts.
Kabengele, a West Coast Conference All-Conference first-team selection, helped propel the Tigers throughout league play a season ago, recording a team-high 220 kills in 15 conference matches. Registering her best-ever season, the transfer from Michigan State accumulated a career-high 294 kills and a 3.30 kills per set ser ratio, ranking seventh best in the conference.
Edwards ranked among the league’s best offensive players with a career-best 431 total kills.
Kumanova and Cook combined for 400 kills while ranking third and fourth on the team. Kumanova also led the team with 56 service aces and ranked first in the conference with 0.46 service aces per set.
The Tigers have a five-player recruiting class with Dylan Gilkey, Zoe Morales, Shelby Gorospe and Alessia Brown entering their first season of collegiate volleyball, while Ashley Davies joins the program as a junior transfer from San Diego City College.
“We’re very excited to add this extremely competitive class to our veterans,” Gibbons said. “We have added some high-level players who will be competing for starting positions.”
In an up-and-down 2022 regular season, Pacific began the non-conference slate with eight wins in its first 12 matches. Finding their stride near the start of league play, the Tigers closed out the non-conference schedule with five straight wins, the longest non-conference winning streak since the 2015 season. The team defeated Liberty, UC San Diego and grabbed the Central Cal Challenge title with victories over CSU Bakersfield, Fresno State and Sacramento State.
The Tigers had several notable conference victories, highlighted by a five-set win over No.12 BYU at the Alex G. Spanos Center on Oct. 15 during Homecoming and Family Weekend. The win ended a 16-match drought against the Cougars.
Finishing the regular season 18-14, Pacific earned a postseason berth with a second-straight appearance in the National Invitational Volleyball Championship. The Tigers traveled to Portland, Oregon, and defeated Omaha and Santa Clara in the opening rounds with four-set victories.
The Tigers eventually bowed out of the tournament in the quarterfinals at Drake, concluding the 2022 campaign with the program’s first winning season since 2017 and the most wins since compiling 24 in 2014.
Pacific opens the 2023 season in a tournament at Arizona, facing North Carolina and the host Wildcats before returning to Stockton to open the home season at 6 p.m. on Aug. 29 against UC Davis. See the full schedule.