STOCKTON, Calif. – Defense played a huge part in Pacific volleyball's five-set loss (21-25, 28-30, 25-21, 25-21, 5-15) to No. 19 San Diego on Thursday night at the Alex G. Spanos Center.
The Tigers fall to 7-10 overall, 2-4 in West Coast Conference play, while the Toreros improve to 11-4, 4-2 in the WCC.
Despite fairly even play through four sets, the Toreros finished with a dominant 5-15 fifth set victory that allowed them the overall edge in kills (65-62), assists (63-56), Digs (65-53), and service aces (9-5). Pacific faired well at the net as they out-blocked San Diego, 16-14.
Ashlyn Fleming was stellar Thursday night as she smashed 16 kills, while committing just three errors in 28 swings for a match-high .464 hitting percentage. The middle blocker from San Jose also topped both teams with nine blocks (one solo, eight assisted).
Three other Tiger players earned double-digit kills on the night. Freshman outside hitter Kaitlyn Lines also totaled a team-high 16 kills, while Andie Shelton had 12 kills and Emily Baptista had 11 kills. Baptista and Shelton were also two of four players on the court to record a double-double, Baptista adding 13 digs. Shelton, who also had 25 assists against the Toreros finished just one dig shy of her third triple-double of the season.
San Diego was strong out of the gate taking a quick 4-0 lead in set one. The Tigers slowly gained some ground, but nearly every point scored was answered by the Toreros, until Pacific's 6-4 run that allowed them to come within two points (6-8). Pacific tied the game at 10-10, but were never able to take a lead due to not only stellar San Diego defense, but five Tiger service errors in the set.
The start of the second set played out similarly to the first set as USD took a quick 5-1 lead, but the Tigers trailed for just a short time, as they went on an 8-4 run that tied the game for the first of 11 times throughout the set. The two teams were tied at every point after 19-19, and despite serving for match point four times Pacific fell by a score of 30-28.
Pacific hit a match-best .444 in the third set as the cruised to 21-14 lead. The Toreros went on to win seven of the next 11 points, but the Tigers were able to sneak away with a 25-21 set win. Fleming led the charge with five kills and four blocks in the set.
In the fourth set the Tigers held San Diego to a match-low .095 hitting percentage. The two squads fought back and forth with a tie score on 10 occasions before Pacific finally took the lead (14-13) on a block by Fleming and Holt. Holt went on to earn the next two kills to increase the Tigers' momentum. Pacific found itself at a significant advantage once again after a Maycie LaBass service ace lifted the Tigers a 21-15 lead. At the Tigers' match point, San Diego went on to win three points, but Fleming, with an assist from Hanne De Schrijver, put the match away by a score of 25-21.
It all came down to defense in the deciding set as the Toreros held Pacific to just four kills and out-blocked the Tigers 5-0.
Pacific will conclude weekend play Saturday at 12:00 pm against No. 8 nationally-ranked BYU. The Cougars snagged a come-from-behind five set victory at Saint Mary's Thursday night to improve to 5-0 in conference play.