Stockton, Calif. - Taking to their home court looking to reverse recent fortunes, the Pacific women's volleyball team came up with a hard fought, 3-1, win over the visiting Cal State Nothridge Matadors on Friday, October 7. The win moved the Tigers to 11-7 overall and 2-3 in conference play while the Matadors fell to 8-8 overall and 2-2 in the Big West.
Game scores for the match were: 25-23, 17-25, 35-33, 25-11.
In a theme that would play out throughout the entire match, the Tigers were forced to play from behind and overcome a late Matador lead to take the opening game of the night. After building a five point lead at 17-12, Pacific saw Cal State Northridge rally back to take a late 21-19 lead behind a 9-2 run. However, Pacific would not be denied as the closed out the game on a 6-2 run of their own, led by three kills from their senior Rebekah Torres. Torres was playing on the outside for the Tigers for the first time in two years after switching away from her usual libero role.
After taking the opening game of the night, the Tigers could not keep their run of luck going as the Matadors evened the match at one game a piece with a convincing win in game two. Using a 6-0 run to break open a 10-10 tie, the Matadors never looked back on their way to what would be their only game win of the night.
Down 10-5, the Tigers inserted sophomore Megan Birch into the front row and the pieces appeared to fall into place for Pacific. With Birch in the front row and Torres working from the back, the Tigers stormed back into the game taking their first lead of the game at 16-15 before closing out their run at 12-5. Leading the way, Birch fired off five kills in five attempts to get Pacific's comeback going.
From there, the two teams locked into a back-and-forth battle that would not be decided until the 18th extra point of the game. During the run, each team fought off numerous game-points with the Tigers overcoming five advantages by the Matadors while Cal State Northridge fended off four of the Tigers. Overall, it was senior Samantha Misa who fed off the energy of the rejuvenated Tiger attack as she put down four of her game-high eight kills during the late-game battle to led Pacific to the 2-1 game advantage.
With the momentum of the hard fought for win in game three, the Tigers ran away with what would be the final game of the night, burying the Matadors by 14 points to take home the victory.
For the night, Misa led the way with her fifth 20+ kill performance as the St. George, Utah native hit the mark exactly with 20 kills in 55 attacks. She picked up seventh double-double of the season as she added 12 digs as well while also posting three blocks. Behind her, Birch racked up eight kills in just one and a half games off the bench while hitting .333 for the match. Defensively, the Tigers saw their young freshman Katy Tagart put together a stellar defensive effort off the bench as she tied her career high of 17 digs while also adding three blocks to her season totals. Junior Gabby Cowden led the Tigers' blocking efforts with a season-best seven blocks to go along with eight kills, two aces and five digs.
Attempting to counter the Tigers' efforts were Natalie Allen and Casey Hinger who each hit double-figures in kills on the night. Allen finished her night with a team-best 13 kills and a .323 hitting percentage while Hinger added 12 kills and a tied Cowden for the match high with seven blocks. Defensively, Cindy Ortiz hit the 30+ dig plateau as the Matadors' libero posted 31 digs in just four games.
The Tigers will look to continue their good fortunes on Saturday, October 8 when they play host to the Highlanders of UC Riverside at 7:00 pm at the Alex G. Spanos Center. The match will feature Pacific in pink uniforms as the Tigers Dig Pink in support of breast health awareness.