Coming off a closely-fought contest with UC Santa Barbara the night before, the UC Irvine Women’s Volleyball team looked to keep up their strong play as they took a loss from Big West Conference opponent Cal Poly San Luis Obispo on Saturday, Oct. 29 at Crawford Hall.
Already having played the Mustangs earlier in the season and losing 3-2, UCI came out strong in the first game, jumping to an early 12-6 lead behind the strong serving of freshman libero/setter Devon Sutherland, who notched two early service aces during the Anteater’s run.
With everything seeming to be going UCI’s way, Cal Poly called a timeout in hopes of stopping the momentum. This proved to be the Anteaters’ undoing as the Mustangs came out of the timeout and immediately went on a six-point run of their own to tie the score at 12.
UCI would stop the run behind a strong kill by senior middle blocker Amanda Vazquez, putting them back in front by one at 13-12, but that would be as close as they would get as Cal Poly closed the game with an 18-8 run, winning 30-21.
‘I think we showed some of our immaturity out there,’ said UCI Head Coach Charlie Brande. ‘Coming off last night’s loss, I think we were lacking some of our focus and intensity and you can’t have that and expect to win.’
If more intensity was what Brande was looking for, UCI didn’t show it in the second game at all. Falling behind 6-0 right from the beginning UCI was unable to put together any kind of a run against the Mustangs as they couldn’t find a way around the wall at the net that was the Cal Poly blockers.
The lone spark in the second game came from UCI sophomore middle blocker Cassandra Lee who came off the bench for the Anteaters and added some much needed enthusiasm and emotion with a quick kill and block in a span of three plays. It was not nearly enough, though, as the Mustangs never trailed and won the game going away, 30-17.
‘We didn’t come ready to play tonight,’ said UCI sophomore outside hitter Kristen Kelly. ‘I don’t know what it was but we were just so flat out there and against a good team like Cal Poly, they will make you pay.’
The third game started off no better than the first two, as UCI fell behind quickly, 4-0. However, the Anteaters are not ones to roll over to an opponent and they showed it as they played their best volleyball of the night in the third and final game.
Sticking close to Cal Poly throughout the final game, the Anteaters finally tied the score at 25, and began to show the emotion that was lacking earlier in the night. This unfortunately proved to be too little, too late, as the Mustangs finished the game on a 5-1 run of their own to take the game, 30-26.
‘It was disappointing to play the way we did in those first two games,’ said UCI freshman outside hitter Lauren Kellerman.
‘We had a really good week of practice leading up to our games, we had a good showing against UC Santa Barbara, and then we come out and fall behind 2-0. We have to focus on bringing the same intensity and emotion to each and every match we play.’
Hopefully the Anteaters will be able to build off of the third game’s emotions and come out with a little more intensity in the coming weeks. UCI continues conference play Saturday, Nov. 5 at Long Beach State.
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