Tigers Take Down Iowa To Open The Marquette Invitational

#12 Koala Matsuoka - Photo by: Gary Jones
#12 Koala Matsuoka - Photo by: Gary Jones
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Milwaukee, Wis. - Getting back on track, the Pacific women's volleyball team put together an impressive 3-1 win over Iowa on Friday, September 14, to open the 2012 Marquette Invitational. The win for the Tigers improved their record to 9-1 on the year while the Hawkeye fell to 7-3 overall.

Set scores for the match were: 25-17, 25-19, 24-26, 25-22.

With their first loss of the season behind them at the Stanford Invitational, the Tigers rebounded for a quick win over the Hawkeye, beating Iowa in the two team's first-ever meeting. For Pacific, it was a strong attack out of the gate that pushed the Hawkeye off balance while the defense held stong to keep Iowa from recovering. 

Opening the match with their offense firing on all cylinders, the Tigers jumped out to a big early lead at 8-1 before the Hawkeye knew what had hit them. With the large early cushion, Pacific was able to withstand a midgame run by Iowa that saw the Hawkeye pull within one point at 16-15. Despite the rally by Iowa, the Tigers held tough and pulled away from their opposition behind a 9-2 run that ended the opening set. Leading the push by the Tigers at the end of the frame was junior Megan Birch who posted four of her set-high eight kills over the final 11 points of the set, including grabbing three straight to give the Tigers' some breathing room at 19-15.

Playing off of the same script as the first set, the Tigers jumped out to comfortable early lead only to see the Hawkeye rally midgame to pull back within one point at 17-16. While it was the offense that allowed the Tigers to rally for the set late in set one, it was Pacific's defense that caused the move towards the win in set two. Throughout the final run it was the Tigers' backline that frustrated the Hawkey's attack, forcing a bevy of errors to close out the win. In the set, the Tigers posted an impressive 27 digs as seniors Hannah Clancy and Koala Matsuoka each tallied six in the frame alone to lead the way.

Up 2-0, Pacific suffered its first and only hiccup of the afternoon as the Hawkeye flipped the table on the Tigers to capture the third set. Just as Pacific had done in each of the first two sets, the Hawkeye took the lead on the first point and trailed just once en route to the victory. For Pacific, the set hung in the balance late as the Tigers took their first and only lead at 19-18, but a 6-2 run by Iowa put the Tigers' in a hole they would not be able to recover from. Despite what would turn into a 26-24 loss, the Tigers were able to gain some momentum for the fourth set late in the third frame as the Tigers' fended off a trio of set points at 24-21 before finally succumbing to the Hawkeye.

With the momentum gained from their near rally in the third, the Tigers went back to the formula that had worked so well for them in the opening two sets as Pacific grabbed a 6-1 lead out of the gate and never looked back. From that point on, the Tigers' lead would yo-yo between two and four points on their way to the win. As they had done in the first set, the Tigers went back out to the pins for their biggest offense as Birch tagged the Hawkeye for another six kills on 14 swings in the frame. Additionally, the backrow kept the Hawkeye at bay as Matsuoka tallied 11 digs in the set alone while freshman Mia Feiner nearly matched her previous match-high of 13 with 10 digs in the frame.

Overall, Birch led the way with 20 total kills on .264 hitting as the junior missed matching her career best by just one kill. Lining up behind the junior outside was sophomore Gillian Howard, who tallied 13 kills on 30 swings, and freshman Kat Schulz, who finished with 11 kills. For Howard, her strong play on both sides of the net continued as she added a match-best five blocks on the day to go along with a career-best six digs. Schulz tallied 12 digs in the match to post her fourth double-double of the season while Clancy grabbed her eighth double-double of the season with 48 assists and 17 digs. Defensively, Matsuoka led the Tigers with a career-best 26 digs while Feiner hit the 20+ dig total for the first time in her career as she added 21. Five Pacific players hit double-digits in digs on the day as freshman Maddy Call got into the action with 13 digs in three rotations of play.

The Hawkeye were led by sophmore Alex Lovell who totaled 18 kills on 60 attacks as Iowa's leader hit just .167 in the match. In the middle, Alessandra Dietz talled 13 kills on .393 hitting while matching Howard's five blocks. As a team, the Hawkeye posted 8.0 total blocks to Pacific's 7.0, while the Tigers outhit the Hawkeye .228-to-.145.

Match note: The 3-1 win for the Tigers marked Pacific's first four-set match of the 2012 season.

The Tigers will be back in action later in the evening on September 14 when they take on the host Golden Eagles of Marquette. The match is scheduled for 5:00 pm (PST) from the Al McGuire Center.