Hoping to avenge their only conference loss of the year, the women’s volleyball team invited the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos to Crawford Court this past Friday for a five set nail-biter. The Lady Anteaters made easy work of the Gauchos in the first set but the remainder of the match proved to be a different story.
In the second set, UCI struggled to get anything started digging themselves an early hole. In what exemplified the entire match, UCI rallied to tie the score at 14 but were quickly shut down with back-to-back scores by Santa Barbara. Again, the Anteaters refused to go down as they rallied from a three-point deficit to tie the set at 20. Unfortunately, the attack of Santa Barbara’s outside hitter Rebecca Saraceno finished UCI’s comeback chances in the second set.
After the half, the Anteaters fought and took the 3rd set finally pulling away after a back-and-forth beginning of the set where neither team was able to find their serve.
The fourth set proved to be the pivotal set that sealed UCI’s fate. The set had 15 tie scores and 6 lead changes. Both teams seemed to have control of the set at different points but Santa Barbara fought their way to force a fifth set.
The final set of the match looked like it would be a quick and easy victory for Santa Barbara as they pulled away to a quick 6-9 lead. However, junior outside hitter Kari Pestolesi refused to let her team go down without a fight. She took over the game with three straight kills to bring the Anteaters back in the running.
After more back-and-forth action between the two teams the Gauchos had their first match point at 14-15, which was ended in resounding fashion as Pestolesi blocked a huge spike and brought the crowd to its feet. At this point the momentum seemed to sway in UCI’s favor. The rest of the match, however, became a dig-fest for Santa Barbara as Pestolesi and junior outside hitter Juliane Piggott constantly attacked the Gauchos only to have it returned every time. In the end, the Santa Barbara defense proved to be too much as they lost the final set 17-19.
It was hard for the home crowd to put their finger on how their team let this one slide. They dominated in team blocks 13 to 7.5 and senior setter Taryn Robertson was keeping the Gauchos on their toes with her deceiving play. What sealed the ’Eaters’ fate were their struggles with serving the ball throughout the match, which even proved to be the chink in Pesolesi’s armor that night. The loss gives UCI their second conference loss – both to UCSB.
UCI 3, Cal Poly 2
Saturday night saw the Anteaters move away from the traditional home white jerseys to pink ones, as they “Dug for a Cure.” Fans were asked to wear pink and pledge money for every dig that was recorded by the Anteaters in order to raise breast cancer awareness. By the end of the night, a total of 74 digs were recorded, which amounted to $1761.
After the heartbreaking loss on Friday night against Santa Barbara, the women’s volleyball team was looking for a big bounce back win against the Cal Poly Mustangs.
The Mustangs gave UCI everything they could handle, but in the end the Anteaters were able to pull off a five set victory, 22-25, 25-20, 25-21, 24-26, 15-11.
“I knew Cal Poly was going to be a really tough team; they have been improving over the last several weeks,” Head Coach Paula Weishoff said.
UC Irvine was led by a trio of players who recorded double digit kills. Juliane Piggott led the team with 15, Kari Pestolesi notched 12 and Taryn Robertson added 10.
The Anteaters stumbled out of the gates, dropping the first set 22-25, despite having outhit Cal Poly and committing four fewer errors. Cal Poly was able to take an early advantage on UCI, jumping out to a 4-1 lead. The ’Eaters would trail throughout the first set until a Cal Poly ball landed out of bounds which knotted the score at 18 apiece. A Larissa Nordyke kill broke an 18-18 tie and gave the Anteaters lead at 19-18. However, the mustangs responded with a kill and block and retook the lead at 20-19. Cal Poly was able to stay in control, as they would go on to take the set.
“Cal Poly served a lot tougher, they sided-out like champs, and they put it together tonight,” Weishoff said.
The second set saw utter domination by the Anteaters, overwhelming the Mustangs with a 25-10 victory. UCI played flawless volleyball, committing one error in the set. Their defense held Cal Poly to an atrocious -.029 hitting percentage, while the Anteater offense was firing on all cylinders, converting .400 of their hitting opportunities.
With a victory in set three, the Anteaters were able to take a 2-1 set advantage. However, the Mustangs would not go down without a fight, forcing a decisive fifth set after beating the ’Eaters in the fourth set, 26-24.
In the fifth and final set, UCI proved to be clutch, out-hitting the Mustangs .435 to .262. UCI’s Juliane Piggott recorded the first two kills of the set and gave the Anteaters a lead they would never relinquish.
“They have been really consistent and have been coming through in the clutch,” Taryn Robertson said about Pestolesi and Piggott.
This time, UCI made sure to step up in the 5th game, slamming the door on the Mustangs, taking the set decisively, 15-11.
The win lifted the Anteaters to a stellar 17-4 (7-2) record on the season. UCI continues Big West Conference play by traveling to Davis and Stockton to face the Aggies and Tigers on Oct 30 and Oct 31, respectively.
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