Saturday night was a record-breaking night for the UC Irvine Women’s Volleyball team. Their three-game sweep of Cal State Fullerton has tied them with the UCI record of 21 victories and promoted them to a three-way tie for second place in the Big West Conference, the highest ranking in UCI history.
The record for most wins in a season was also accomplished by the 1981 and 1982 teams at UCI.
The Anteaters won this Big West Conference match on Nov. 22 at Crawford Court in three consecutive sets, 32-30, 30-28 and 30-20.
‘We knew we had to get this [game] because we had a feeling that Northridge may lose to Utah State, so we really had to come out to this game,’ said Head Coach Charlie Brande.
The lowest point of the game occurred during the very beginning of the first set when the Anteaters were down 9-4. After this, UCI could not stop scoring.
‘I think tonight’s [game] was similar in the way we kind of have a tendency to let up sometimes. We are so ready to play hard teams and we win, and sometimes we let up,’ said junior opposite Dana Kurzbard. ‘But this time we were able to keep it in.’
Sophomore outside hitter Terbrie Taylor and junior outside hitter Kelly Wing each earned six kills in the first set, scoring the majority of points.
With Wing as the kill leader averaging 5.62 kills a game, lone senior libero Brenda Waterman in the back row digging up everything coming her way, Kurzbard and junior middle blocker Sami Cash in the middle, and junior setter Ashlie Hain on the court, victory against the Titans was in sight.
‘I have so much confidence in our team that I knew we would be able to pull it off. We just take care of the business on our side,’ Taylor said.
The second set was good from the beginning as the Anteaters stayed in the lead due largely to Wing, Taylor and Cash with their instant kills.
‘After the first two games I think we had to pick it up and play because we weren’t playing as hard as we should. But the third game came around and we knew what we had to do. We became determined,’ Wing said.
When asked which players were most valuable to the game against the Titans, Taylor answered, ‘Everyone. Everybody did their job. Everybody took care of what they were supposed to do.’
As UCI maintained the lead in the third set, the crowd erupted as Wing delivered yet another swooping kill.
‘Kelly Wing. Oh my gosh, unbelievable. Kills the ball every time,’ Waterman said.
Though Saturday was a night for great excitement, it was also bittersweet, for it was the last conference match of the season in which Waterman would participate. The Anteaters honored Waterman who will finish school this year and not return to play next season.
‘[Waterman’s] been a major part of our movement here. She started as a freshman and as we progressed, she’s been a major part of our success and our ability to get better and better. Her leadership, we’re going to dearly miss,’ Brande said. ‘I personally have been her coach over 10 years. It’s going to be hard for me.’
After the match, the realization that she was playing her last game for UCI was just beginning to sink in.
‘I really can’t believe it’s over. It feels like yesterday that my first game was here and it’s very sad. It wasn’t really about whether we were going to win or lose, it wasn’t really about the other side tonight,’ Waterman said. ‘It was about what we did. We just want to go out and get after them. We play every game like it’s our last.’
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