STOCKTON, Calif. – The Pacific women's volleyball win over Saint Mary's on Saturday afternoon was no easy feat as the Geals pushed the Tigers to just their third five-set match at home this season.
Pacific improves to 13-13 overall, 8-7 in West Coast Conference play, while Saint Mary's falls to 7-18, 3-12 in league.
After setting and matching a career-high 25 kills in three contests this season, Baptista was able to surpass that number and set a new career mark with 26 kills against the Gaels. Overall the sophomore from Hilmar hit .273 with just eight errors in 66 total swings.
Shelton continues to be a key component to both the Tigers' offensive and defensive game as she secured 10 kills and dished out 32 assists, while also totaling 12 digs.
The Tigers' two middle blockers — Ashlyn Fleming and Janie Feldsher — were key in Pacific's victory with both combining for a .476 hitting percentage (21-1-42). Fleming was second on the team with 14 kills, while Feldsher finished errorless and had seven kills.
Defensively, the Tigers held the edge in digs (79-74), but the Gaels out-blocked the home team 10-6. Gotterba led in the back row with 27 digs, while setter, Hanne DeSchrijver and Maycie LaBass contributed 14 digs and 12 digs, respectively.
Fleming had a team-best four block assists, while Shelton, Feldsher, and Baptista each had two blocks assists. Skylar Wine and Alex holt each contributed on one block.
Saint Mary's completely set the tone in the first set, slowing the Tigers offense, while hitting .452 as a team. Pacific stayed relatively close in the first set until Saint Mary's was able to pull away with six straight points at 6-5 to extend its lead to 12-5. Despite three multiple-point runs the Tigers were never able to come back within four points and eventually dropped the set, 25-20.
On the other side of the court the Tigers had to battle once again after finding themselves and an early disadvantage. It was not until consecutive kills by Feldsher and Holt that the Tigers were able to snag its first lead (9-8) of the match. A service ace by DeSchrijver gave Pacific its largest lead at 20-15. The two teams matched score-for-score over the next few points, but three-consecutive kills by Baptista evened the match at 1-1.
After intermission the Gaels went back to slowing the pace of the game, which gave them an early 4-0 lead. The Tigers tied the game at 6-6 with a Fleming kill, but the Gaels answered back and tied the score up at 7-7, 8-8, and 9-9. With DeSchrijver behind the service line, Pacific took the next three points (12-9). The Tigers defense allowed the Gaels just six more points throughout the match, holding them to a match-low .062 hitting percentage.
The fourth set looked as though it was going to the Tigers as they gained ground early. After a 9-9 tie score, Pacific was doing a fine job holding off a very resilient Saint Mary's squad. Following a kill by Shelton at 19-15, Saint Mary's rode an 8-3 run, which included a 5-0 run at 22-20 to force a fifth set.
The Tigers scored first for the only time in the deciding set, taking an early 6-2 lead which forced a Saint Mary's timeout. The two teams battled back and forth and there were never more than than four points that separated the two squads the entire set. A big kill by Shelton at 10-7 give the Tigers the final push and with the help of a Baptista kill at 13-11 and service ace at 14-11, the Pacific volleyball team was able to improve its home record to 5-2.
Pacific will play its final weekend series against Gonzaga on Thursday, Nov. 16 and Portland on Saturday, Nov. 18.
Fans be sure to follow Pacific women's volleyball on Twitter (@PacificVball) and on Instagram at pacificvolleyball.