After suffering two consecutive shutout losses, the UC Irvine Women’s Volleyball team was looking to rebound against the struggling UC Davis Aggies, who were 2-12 entering the match.
In perhaps their best-played match of the season, the Anteaters dominated UCD for a shutout victory of their own Saturday night in front of 435 fans at Crawford Court to improve their season record to 6- 7. Holding Davis to under 20 points in each of the three games, UCI was in control the entire match. The Anteaters came out on fire, taking a 21-12 lead while capitalizing on Davis’ sloppy play. Numerous easy chances were botched by the Aggies, giving the excited Anteaters and their home crowd something to cheer about. The Anteaters closed out the first game 30-20.
‘We played with great enthusiasm and we played with great intensity for the whole match,’ said Head Coach Charlie Brande. ‘We’ve had some spurts this year that we’ve looked very good, very consistent. Then we’ve had some spurts where we’ve really not been very consistent.’
The Anteaters got their most consistent play from sophomore setter Christa Conom who notched 52 set assists to her teammates. Conom’s play throughout the match helped pace the Anteaters to their solid victory. With the 5-1 formation that the Anteaters use, it’s crucial that Conom plays well.
‘Christa Conom set probably the best that she’s set for us so far,’ Brande said. ‘She did a great job moving the ball around and getting the ball to different hitters.’
The hitter that did the most damage for UCI was senior middle blocker Amanda Vazquez who finished the match with 18 kills. Vazquez was a nightmare for the Aggies early on as she pounded seven kills in the first game including the winning point.
‘Amanda has really carried us all year long,’ Brande said.
‘We just took care of our side,’ Vazquez said. ‘We proved we have what it takes to turn [the losing streak] around.’
Although UCI seized the momentum early after their convincing first game victory, UCD didn’t give up altogether.
The Aggies fought back in the second game and pulled within two points of UCI, 11-9. The Aggies’ hard play wasn’t enough though as the Anteaters absorbed their run and finished the game with their own 19-8 run.
After effectively stopping Davis’ momentum, UCI cruised to an easy 30-18 third game victory to close out the match. The third game featured a powerful display from standout freshman middle blocker Lauren Kellerman as she totaled 6 of her 13 kills in the final frame. Kellerman demonstrated her versatility and promise as she built an impressive stat line for the match with 13 kills, a service ace, eight digs and two block assists.
Her performance wasn’t lost on her coach. ‘Lauren Kellerman continues to get better every game,’ Brande said. ‘Every game she plays she’s getting better and better.’
Sophomore outside hitter Kristin Kelley, freshman middle blocker Cassidy Caprista and senior middle blocker Whitney Pavlik all starred for the Anteaters with 11, 9 and 8 blocks respectively. Senior defensive specialists Jennifer Moser and Keegan Feathersone had nine and eight digs respectively.
‘It was a whole team effort,’ Moser said. ‘The energy just got us through everything. We made mistakes, but our energy level was just so high that we pushed through it tonight.’
UCI will have to keep their energy level up as they open Big West Conference play on the road against Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and UCSB on back-to-back nights this weekend. UCI’s next home game is Thursday, Oct. 6 against rival Long Beach State.
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