Though the Anteaters failed to record two wins this past week, their play was encouraging.
On Thursday, Oct. 11, UC Irvine defeated Cal State Fullerton in a close match (30-24, 16-30, 32-30, 30-28). In the 3-1 win at Titan Gym, freshman outside hitter Kari Pestolesi matched a career high with 23 kills. Libero Devon Sutherland led all players with 29 digs. Setter Taryn Robertson recorded a double-double with 52 assists and 12 digs. Middle blocker Kristin Kelley added 12 kills and four total blocks. Caroline Kim had a season-high 11 digs. Middle blocker Chelsea Ellis hit an impressive .400 to go along with her eight kills.
UCI came out firing in game one with a 5-1 lead. Fullerton, however, tied up the match at 11 apiece. With a collective effort from all of the players and some big plays by Robertson, Kelly, Alexandra Filkin and Kellerman, the Anteaters built a 24-17 lead en route to a 30-24 win.
The Anteaters couldn’t duplicate their success in game two. They only held the lead once, when they were up 5-4. Fullerton had 16 blocks, and UCI’s hit percentage went down from .353 to an abysmal negative .023. Fullerton cruised to a 30-16 victory.
The Titans carried their momentum from game two into game three. Quickly building a 9-5 lead, Fullerton looked to breeze by UCI once again. They even had game point at 29-26. The Anteaters kept fighting, and back-to-back kills from Pestolesi and Robertson set the tone for the team. Robertson connected with Pestolesi for the tie-breaking kill, and then assisted Ellis on the game-winning block.
Game four was another grueling, close match with neither team breaking out with a significant lead. Eventually, UCI took a 28-24 lead, only to have Fullerton cut the deficit to 29-28. Following a UCI timeout, Shannon Holman sealed the game and match for the Anteaters.
The win put UCI in a first-place tie at 5-1 with 24th-ranked Cal Poly San Luis Obispo 12-7 (6-1), who was their opponent last Saturday. The match, however, left UCI in a close second place.
Though UCI, now 15-7 (5-2), was swept for the first time this season (31-29, 30-22, 30-28) at Crawford Court, the straight set loss did not reflect the play of the Anteaters.
The match saw poor hitting from both teams, which forced them to find alternative ways to score. Game one saw the Mustangs build an early five-point lead, but the Anteaters brought the Mustangs’ advantage to just one point at 20-19. The Anteaters tied the scores at 24, 26 and 29, but errors by the Anteaters and capitalization by the Mustangs led to a 29-31 defeat. Cal Poly hit .100 and UCI hit .114 for the game.
Game two did not go well for the Anteaters. They kept the game close early, but an 8-3 run by the Mustangs helped establish a 22-15 lead. Cal Poly went on to win the game 30-22.
UCI showed some signs of life in game three. The team built a significant 16-8 lead, but the pesky Mustangs hung around. Eventually, Cal Poly tied the game at 26 and scored three consecutive points when they were down 27-28 to take the game from the Anteaters.
UCI competed with an impressive 24th-ranked Cal Poly team almost every step of the way. Still, the Mustangs showed the Anteaters that they must establish their game early and consistently in order to beat this squad.
The Anteaters continue Big West conference play at UC Riverside on Friday at 7 p.m.
Filed Under: Sports