Fridays night’s match against CSU Fullerton marked the first time that UC Irvine women’s volleyball has played under the bright lights of the Bren Events Center. The move from Crawford Hall to The Bren seemed to be a good one, as the Lady Anteaters brought a season high attendance of 1,035 to be a part of senior night and witness the last collegiate home game for four seniors: Alex Filkins, Lauren Souto, McCall Miller and team captain, Taryn Robertson.
“I tried to play the same as I normally would but it was hard because of all the adrenaline,” Robertson said.
Kari Pestolesi led all players with 16 kills, while Juliane Piggott added another 11. UC Irvine was able to show CSU Fullerton that Orange County belongs to ’Eater Nation. Not only did the Anteaters with both matches against Fullerton, but the Titans failed to muster a win in any of the six sets that were played.
The Titans brought their “A” game to the first set, as they out blocked UCI four to one, and committed one less error. However, this was not enough as the Anteaters were able to come out on top, 29-27.
The Anteaters were able to jump out to a 7-4 lead, but a combination of Anteater errors and Titan blocks opened the door for the Titans to take the lead at 9-11.
Trailing 9-11, the ’Eaters were able to scratch and crawl their way back into the set. Two Juliane Piggott kills and a Riley Cropper block helped the ’Eaters regain the lead at 16-15.
“It is huge when you get two or three points in a row, those mini runs helped us win the match,” Coach Paula Weishoff said.
Tied at 20, Kari Pestolesi recorded a kill that ignited a 4-1 run. Leading 24-21, the ’Eaters only needed one point to end the set. However, the ’Eaters could not find the jugular and allowed the Titans to tie the set at 24-24.
Tied at 24 apiece, it would be the first team to come up with a two point lead that would ultimately win the set. Juliane Piggott and the Anteaters struck first, as they took a 25-24 lead. From this point on, both teams would exchange points as the score would see-saw from a one point Anteater lead to a tie.
After four failed chances to end the set, the fifth one proved to be the sweetest. Up 28-27, Pestolesi fired a fast ball down the middle of the court that quickly ended a dramatic set at 29-27.
“Fullerton kept fighting, they were digging every ball, luckily we hung in there and took care of it,” Robertson said.
The second and third set proved to be much easier for the ’Eaters, as they won both of them convincingly, 25-20 and 25-19.
Fullerton was able to keep close for much the second set. The Titans held the lead at both 9-10 and 14-16 but the ’Eaters overwhelmed Fullerton, as they could not hold on to any of these leads.
In the third and final set, Fullerton would once again hold leads at 10-13 and 15-17, but much like the second set, the Titans failed to capitalize on these leads. The Anteaters were able to come out on top, 25-19, due in large part to UCI’s stingy defense. The ’Eaters put a blocking clinic on the Titans, as they out blocked Fullerton five to zero and were able to hold the Titans to an abysmal .048 hitting percentage.
The sweep marks the fourth time in the last five games that the Anteaters have been able to sweep their opponent as the ’Eaters completed a streak of 15 set wins out of their last 16 sets.
UC Irvine 2 Long Beach St. 3
The UC Irvine’s women’s volleyball team ended its conference schedule last Saturday with a 3-2 (25-19, 20-25, 25-22. 22-25, 15-10) set loss to Long Beach State in Long Beach. The 49er win put them one game ahead of the Anteaters in conference play and secured them the regular season Big West Conference top spot with a 12-4 record.
UCI’s Juliane Piggott recorded a career-high 27 kills while Kari Pestolesi had a double double with 20 kills and 21 digs. Taryn Robertson recorded a season high 63 assists while picking up 12 digs. Long Beach’s Naomi Washington led the match with 26 kills and Caitlin Ledoux had 15 kills and 14 digs.
The Anteaters were able to start the final set out with a 4-1 run, but Long Beach tied the score at 4-4 and never looked back from there. The loss dropped UCI’s overall record to 22-7 and their league record ended up at 11-5.
The Anteaters will have a chance to improve their overall record when they face TCU in Long Beach at the Pyramid on November 28.
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