Coming off a win against Cal State Fullerton on Oct. 15, the UC Irvine Women’s Volleyball team hoped to build on their momentum as they took on nonconference opponent Loyola Marymount on Tuesday, Oct. 18 at Crawford Court.
Unfortunately for the Anteaters, a lack of consistent play and numerous unforced errors did not allow them to establish any type of rhythm, as they were shut out by LMU 3-0, falling to 7-13 on the season.
In the first game, UCI just could not seem to make any type of run on the Lions (12-6). Falling behind early, UCI played catch-up the whole game and ended up losing the first game 30-20.
The second game was a different story as the Anteaters jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead and held their own as the lead changed hands five times over the course of the set. Up 21-17, UCI was looking to even it up at one game apiece. LMU sophomore outside hitter Christianna Reneau had other ideas as she took the serve and didn’t relinquish it until the Lions were up 25-21.
‘Our inconsistent play really hurt us,’ UCI senior middle blocker Whitney Pavlik said. ‘We were in position to win that second game and we just seemed to lose our focus.’
Pavlik’s strong play, along with fellow junior outside hitter Trisha White, was a bright spot for the Anteaters in that second game as both recorded five kills apiece. Their efforts were not enough though, as LMU closed the game out on a 13-1 run to take the second game 30-22.
‘That second game was tough, because we had control and just let it get away,’ said UCI Head Coach Charlie Brande. ‘We need to be more consistent in our play, minimizing the types of errors that lead to big runs like they had.’
The third and final game started off badly, with UCI falling behind 10-3 early. In a situation where some teams may have simply folded and let LMU run away with a win, UCI put up a fight.
Down 16-7, sophomore setter Christa Conom stopped the run with a perfect set to senior middle blocker Amanda Vazquez who nearly took the head off of an LMU player as she smashed the kill down the line. Conom followed the kill with a beautiful service ace, suddenly putting UCI right back in the game. While they would get no closer than four points to the Lady Lions, UCI played its best volleyball of the night in the final game. Vazquez was the fuel to the team’s fire as she went a perfect five-for-five on kill attempts, each one seemingly more powerful than the last.
‘Losing the first two games the way we did, especially that second one, it starts to get to you,’ Vazquez said. ‘The back row played well tonight, but we just weren’t getting it done up front. It got me angry and in that last game, I was just taking out some of that anger on the ball.’
Whatever it was, Vazquez could not be stopped. Along with Vazquez, sophomore outside hitter Kristen Kelley stepped up in the third game, recording three kills to finish with five on the night and possibly her best all-around game of the season.
Brande noticed the play of Kelley, as well as a few other players who came off the bench in the final game.
‘Kristen, Caroline Kim and Terri Peterson all played well for us tonight,’ Brande said. ‘Hopefully we can use the last game as a learning tool to see how well we can play when we really focus on being consistent with each point.’
UCI needs to bring the same intensity that they finished with to their next match, as they are slated to take a visit to Big West Conference foe Cal State Northridge on Oct. 25.