Momentum csontinued to build for the UC Irvine women’s volleyball team at the end of their 2006 regular season as they defeated Virginia Commonwealth University in its last game back in November.
This four-game match played at The Pyramid in Long Beach gave the Anteaters a 13-16 overall record. Not bad for a team that started the year with a six-game losing streak, five of which were 3-0 defeats.
The lady Anteaters were able to redeem themselves, however, winning nine of their last 12 games closing out the season after starting the year 4-13. As the spring season kicks off, the team hopes that the rhythm it established at the end of regular season will continue through to its upcoming games for the month of April.
On Saturday, the Anteaters faced off against the Lions of Loyola Marymount University in a four-game scrimmage, with wins split evenly at two games apiece.
UCI won the first two games 30-21 and 30-22, a step up from last season’s two defeats to LMU where the ladies were only able to win one game in both matches against the Lions.
Progress like that is what Head Coach Charlie Brande thinks will be visible to all those who followed last season.
‘Anybody that saw us play in September through October can see how much improved we are and how much more mature we are,’ Brande said.
Building on this improvement is a priority to all the players and coaches.
‘We’ve just been coming into the gym everyday really focused and ready to play and we’re working a lot on our defense passing and serving,’ said freshman setter Taryn Robertson.
Despite all the improvement, player maturity is definitely a concern to anyone looking at six freshmen and two sophomores who are listed on the women’s roster.
‘Our freshmen have grown up and our sophomores have grown up and they are playing with great maturity right now,’ Brande said.
This assurance from the coach can also be backed by the performances given by his young players last season: of the four All-Big West Conference selections, two were freshmen.
Robertson and freshman opposite McCall Miller were both voted All-Freshmen Big West, while sophomore Lauren Kellerman claimed First Team All-Big West.
Junior middle blocker Kristin Kelley gained an honorable mention in the conference for her strong play, displaying leadership and skill for the three juniors currently on the 11-girl roster.
With the departure of only one senior, Trisha White, from last season, UCI will not have to deal with shifting position or familiarizing itself with a new roster.
Spring season will continue for the team as the Anteaters host a tournament in Crawford Hall against Pepperdine, San Diego, UC Riverside, UC Santa Barbara and rival Long Beach State on April 14.
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