Northridge, Calif. - A night after posting one of their greatest offensive performances in program history, the Tigers' high octane offense sputtered against Cal State Northridge (CSUN) on Saturday, November 5, as the Pacific women's volleyball team fell in three games to the Matadors. The loss dropped the Tigers to 7-6 in Big West play and 16-10 overall while the Matadors improved to 7-5 in conference action and 13-11 on the year. In addition, the loss for Pacific dropped the Tigers out of second place in the conference as the two teams flipped places in the standings.
Game scores for the match were: 25-23, 31-33, 25-18.
In a match that once again featured one of the longest single games in program history, Pacific came up on the short end of the stick as the Matadors were able to edge out the Tigers at every turn to take home the three-game sweep.
Opening the match, the Tigers fell behind the Matadors early as CSUN jumped out front with a quick five point lead at 10-5. Facing the early hole, Pacific would battle back a few points later to even the match and even take a lead behind a 10-2 run. The run for the Tigers came courtesy of their defensive presence at the net, posting four blocks including three from junior Gabby Cowden and sophomore Megan Birch. However, the big run in the middle of the game would fall short of securing the first game win for the Tigers as the Matadors stuck to their guns and continued to attack, breaking through late in the game to take the opening game.
Down one game to none, Pacific found itself in a slugfest in game two as the team fought to stay alive in the match. Just as they had done in game one, the Tigers fell behind the Matadors early by a half dozen points, forcing Pacific to play from behind once again. Down big at 12-6, Pacific turned to Birch to lead the comeback efforts. Taking on the entire Matador attack, Birch nearly singlehandely kept the Tigers' hopes alive as the sophomore rebounded from a killless first game to post a career single-game best 12 kills in game two. Birch's efforts on the attacking front put the Tigers back in the game as Pacific rallied to make game two one of the longest, and hard-fought contests in program history. Down 24-21, the Tigers fought off three game-points initially to force extra points where they would fight of five more game-points before finally succumbing to the Matadors.
The back-breaking loss in game two put the writing on the walls for Pacific as the Matadors took the momentum of their epic win in game two to turn game three into a one-sided affair. After relying heavily on their attack and backline defense to win games one and two, the Matadors turned their attention to their net defense in game three, blocking the Tigers six times in the frame to secure the victory.
Overall, Birch finished her night with a match-high 13 kills as the sophomore hit .222 on 36 attacks. She added two digs and three blocks to Pacific's defensive efforts as well. Behind Birch, sophomore Jennifer Sanders posted nine kills on 20 swings while tallying three blocks as well while senior Samantha Misa finished with nine kills on 35 attacks with 11 digs. Junior Hannah Clancy picked up her team-best 13th double-double on the year as the Tigers' starting setter posted 33 assists and 12 digs in the three games.
For the Matadors, Natalie Allen and Mahina Haina led the way with 12 kills, a piece. Allen posted a well-rounded effort in the box score as she picked up a double-double on the night by adding 11 digs as well while also tallying four blocks. Casey Hinger continued her strong showing for the weekend with 11 kills on 22 swings while also posting seven blocks defensively to go along with two aces and two digs.
The Tigers will be back home in the Alex G. Spanos Center on Friday, November 11, to take on the Long Beach State 49ers at 7:00 pm. The 49ers secured the Big West title on Saturday night with a 3-0 sweep of Cal State Fullerton.