The UC Irvine Women’s Volleyball team lost to Long Beach State in straight sets, 30-25, 30-21 and 30-21, on Oct. 6 at Crawford Court.
UCI, which also lost to UC Santa Barbara on Oct. 1, fell to 6-10 overall and 0-3 in Big West Conference play. The 49ers improved to 12-4 overall and 2-1 in league play.
Sophomore middle blocker Alexis Crimes and senior middle blocker Erika Chidester led Long Beach State with 12 kills apiece, as well as contributing four block assists each.
Crimes’ dominance in the game did not come as a surprise to the Anteaters.
‘We knew coming in that she wasgoing to get her kills,’ said UCI Head Coach Charlie Brande. ‘She got over the top [of the net] very good.’
The score remained close throughout most of the first game, with UCI and Long Beach State trading points and tying the score 12 times. Senior middle blocker Whitney Pavlik served an ace to tie the score at 19-19 midway through the second game. But a kill by Crimes gave the advantage to the 49ers, who then took control.
By the third game, the Anteaters ran out of steam. With the score even at 6-6, sophomore setter Dyanne Lawlor broke the tie with a kill for Long Beach State. UCI attempted to rally, and seemed to gain momentum after a kill by Pavlik to close the gap at 17-22.
Nevertheless, the consistency of Long Beach State allowed them to prevail. They maintained their lead and never looked back.
Crimes and Chidester finished with 15 points each for the 49ers, followed by freshman outside hitter Ali Daley with 11.
‘We started off strong [but] slowed down after game two,’ Pavlik said.
Added junior outside hitter Trisha White, ‘I think we needed more peaks and less dips. We needed to be more in charge [and] finish our plays.’
According to Brande, several things contributed to UCI’s loss.
‘[Long Beach] served very tough,’ he said. ‘Their defense was relentless. They just kept coming and coming. We would make two or three good plays then we would stop playing, so we weren’t as consistent as they were.’
UCI’s senior middle blocker Amanda Vazquez tallied four block assists for UCI, putting her within one of hitting the 300-mark for her career.
‘We didn’t pass very well,’ Brande said, ‘so we weren’t able toget her [Vazquez] the ball in situations where she would have been effective.’
Although both teams made a total of 20 errors by the end of the match, Long Beach State had 52 kills compared to Irvine’s 35. Two Anteaters committed seven errors apiece: sophomore outside hitter Kristin Kelly and White, who also led UCI with 12 kills.
‘Trisha made some great plays,’ Brande said. ‘But she has got to steady out and minimize her errors, too. We have to focus on the problems on our side of the net and get better, which I’m hoping we will.’
It was the opening match of the ‘Black and Blue’ series between the two schools’ athletic teams.
The ‘Black and Blue’ series is a competition between the sports teams of UCI and Long Beach State. Points are tallied throughout the academic year from their athletic match ups, and the school with the most points will be awarded a trophy which they retain until the following year’s winner is determined.
Adding a trophy to the two schools’ rivalry is also a way to garner even more attention among local Southern California sports fans, especially those from the Long Beach and Orange County areas.
Brande feels that the creation of a series with a trophy is merely an exclamation point to the already existing rivalry with Long Beach State.
‘We have a great respect for their program,’ Brande said. ‘We love playing them, and it’s a battle every time we face each other.’