Tigers Win A Defensive Battle With UC Irvine, 3-2, On Saturday Night

Pacific Volleyball - Photo by: Gary Jones
Pacific Volleyball - Photo by: Gary Jones
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Stockton, Calif. - In what turned out to be a battle of attrition between the Tigers and the Anteaters, the Pacific women's volleyball team came out on top, 3-2, on Saturday, November 3. The win for the Tigers improved Pacific's record to 18-8 on the year, tying their 2011 win total with five matches to play in the regular season. Additionally, the Tigers improved to 6-7 in conference play while UC Irvine fell to 10-17 overall and 5-8 in Big West play. The match was Pacific's 11th five-set match of the season as the Tigers improved to 7-4 in such affairs.

Set scores for the match were: 23-25, 25-23, 23-25, 25-17, 15-12.

Coming off of a tough loss the night prior, the Tigers found themselves in a defensive dog fight with UC Irvine that lasted nearly two and a half hours until Pacific found themselves the last team standing in the fifth set. Throughout the night, the two teams put on a defensive clinic along the backline as Pacific posted a season-high 108 digs while the Anteaters tallied 111.

Overall, Pacific had three players reach 20 digs in the match with a fourth right behind as freshman Kat Schulz posted a career-best 27 digs while seniors Koala Matsuoka and Hannah Clancy added 24 and 20, respectively. Redshirt-freshman Anne-Sophie Bauer continued to impress playing all six-rotations as she grabbed a career-best 19 digs on the night. For the Anteaters, Kristin Winkler put together another stellar night as the senior libero posted a match-best 36 digs to lead all defensive players. Aly Squires added 22 digs for the Anteaters to go along with a team-best 15 kills while setter Marissa Alvarez posted 59 assists and 17 digs.

For the second-straight match, the trio of Schulz, Clancy and Bauer each recorded double-doubles on the night as Schulz added 17 kills to her 27 digs while Clancy posted a career-best 63 assists and Bauer added a career-best 15 kills to their dig totals. Outside of their six-rotation players, Pacific's middle blockers flexed their muscle at the net as junior Jennifer Sanders tallied a match and season-high 18 kills with four blocks while sophomore Gillian Howard added 12 kills and a team-best seven blocks.

Inside of the match, the two teams traded barbs throughout the night with each team taking alternating sets until the fifth and final frame. In set one, the Anteaters used a 7-3 run in the final 10 points of the set to take the early 1-0 lead on the Tigers. Evening the match in set two, Pacific used eight kills on just 10 swings from Sanders to come away with the win. Out of the break, the Anteaters took an early lead on the Tigers in set three and never gave it back as Pacific evened the set seven different times but never could grab the lead. With their backs against the wall yet again, the Tigers came out on fire in game four, cruising out to a nine point lead midway through the set to seal the fourth set victory and send the match to a fifth set. In the set, Pacific hit .283 led by Howard and Schulz who each posted five kills on 11 swings.

Back in familiar territory in the fifth and decisive set, the Tigers sprinted out to a 10-5 lead over the Anteaters as Pacific went back to Howard early for three kills and one block to get things started. Despite the big lead, the Tigers saw the Anteaters fight back to within one point at 12-11 before a 3-1 run closed out the set and the match for Pacific. To seal the match, the Tigers looked towards their junior in the middle as Sanders combined with Bauer on a block to set up match point before finishing off the Anteaters with her 18th kill on the night.

Pacific will be back in action on Friday, November 9 when the Tigers hit the road for the final time with a trip to UC Santa Barbara. The Tigers and the Gauchos will face off from the Thunderdome at 7:00 pm.