Tigers Take The Marquette Tournament Title With A 3-1 Win Over Milwaukee

#22 Jennifer Sanders - Photo by; Gary Jones
#22 Jennifer Sanders - Photo by; Gary Jones
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Milwaukee, Wis. - Finishing off their perfect weekend on the road at the Marquette Invitational, the Pacific women's volleyball team took home a 3-1 win over Milwaukee on Saturday, September 15. The win gave the Tigers' the tournament title as Pacific was perfect on the road with three wins as it improved to 11-1 on the year while the Panthers fell to 5-7.

Set scores for the match were: 22-25, 25-19, 25-18, 25-17.

For the third time in four attempts in 2012, the Tigers were perfect on the weekend en route to another regular season tournament title. With just one match standing in their way of taking home the championship, the Tigers started slow but in the end proved too much for the Panthers of Milwaukee as Pacific won their second four-set match of the weekend to take the title.

Out of the gate, the Tigers looked like they would be in for a fight as the Panthers put the Tigers behind early in the opening set and never let the Tigers recover as Pacific never led in the first frame. Down by as much as five midway through the set, the Tigers closed the gap twice to knot the match at 21-21 and 22-22 before finally giving way to the Panthers on a three-point swing the ended the set. For Pacific, the opener proved to be its biggest struggle as Milwaukee's defense, which featured five blocks, held the Tigers to a match-low .152 hitting percentage. Overall, just one Tiger, junior Megan Birch, was able to find her offensive rhythm against the Panthers early as she tallied seven of Pacific's 13 kills in the set.

Down one, the Tigers shook off their sluggish start to rebound in set two as Pacific's diversified its attack and with it, spread out the Panthers to expose cracks in their defense. Building a 12-7 lead early against Milwaukee, the Tigers were able to hold off a charge by the Panthers late that saw Pacific's lead cut to just two at 19-17. With the set hanging in the balance, Pacific left the Panthers behind with a four-point run and a 6-2 finish that saw three different Tigers' add kills to Pacific's total.

Back in control of the match, Pacific essentially put the Panthers away in the third set when the Tigers opened the frame by taking nine of the first 13 points. From that point on, the Tigers steadily built on their five point lead while allowing the Panthers to close no closer than three while extending their advantage to as much as eight. In the set, the Tigers put together their most complete offensive performance as Pacific hit .467 led by their juniors Birch and Jennifer Sanders who combined for nine kills on 17 attacks with no errors.

In what would be the final set of the afternoon, the Tigers put the pesky Panthers away with a big seven point run early in the set as Pacific turned a 7-7 contest into a 14-7 lead behind the serve of freshman Mia Feiner. During the run, Sanders guided her Tigers from the middle as the junior grabbed a pair of kills and a block to help solidify the victory. She would finish the set with six kils as she picked up 11 kills in the last two sets of the match to finish with 16 total.

Overall, Pacific was led by Birch at the pins as the third-year player posted 19 kills in the match on .326 hitting. For the weekend, Birch tallied 62 kills in three matches to earn tournament MVP honors. In addition to her 16 kills on .448 hitting, Sanders finished her afternoon with a pair of blocks while the duo was joined by freshman Kat Schulz who tallied 10 kills for her Tigers. Schulz picked up her third straight double-double as the freshman led all defenders for Pacific with 17 digs.

Outside of the top scorers, senior Hannah Clancy ended her weekend with her third-straight double-double as the Tigers' setter posted 47 assists and 11 digs along with three kills and three blocks to earn her first all-tournament award of the year. Sophomore Gillian Howard earned all-tournament honors after posting seven kills and three blocks in the match against the Panthers to finish her stay in Milwaukee with 31 kills and 17 blocks.

For the Panthers, three players hit double-digits in kills led by Julie Kolinske's 18. Kolinske added 15 digs and three blocks to round out her afternoon. Alongside of Kolinske, Rachel Neuberger picked up 14 kills while Sammi Herron added 10.

The Tigers will be back in action on Saturday, September 22 when they tavel to Davis, Calif. to take on the rival UC Davis Aggies in the opening match of the Big West schedule. The two teams are set to face off at 7:00 pm.