Volleyball Goes 1-1 in Big West Openers

Scott Roeder | Staff Photographer

Scott Roeder | Staff Photographer
Taryn Robertson sets up a potential kill to one of her middle blockers.

UC Irvine women’s volleyball team handed Cal State Northridge their third loss in conference play and seventh straight defeat on Friday night at Crawford Hall after sweeping UC Riverside two weeks ago. The Anteaters won in a convincing fashion, leaving no doubt in their fan’s mind, taking three of the four sets lead by both outside hitters, three-time all-conference player Lauren Kellerman and last year’s Big West Freshman of the Year Kari Pestolesi. Both outside hitters finished the match with 16 kills.
“That is our job to keep the majority of the balls in play. We just had to do our job,” Pestolesi said.
The first two sets were completely dominated by the Anteaters; they controlled the tempo, never allowing the Matadors to get into any sort of rhythm. The ‘Eaters won the first set 25-18, taking eight out of the first 10 points. CSUN was never able to take control of the game which was established early on by the Anteaters. When the Matadors went on a small run, UCI was able to recapture momentum with long rallies and enormous kills that deflated CSUN.
“We have talked a lot about understanding the flow of the game, not letting it go their way, keeping it on our side,” said Head Coach Charlie Brande.
The second set was much the same, with UCI holding CSUN to 13 points and a .322 kill percentage. Unlike set one, the Anteaters actually trailed 5-6 in the beginning of the set. This would be the only point in the set that the Anteaters would trail; they would finish on a 20-7 run, winning the set 25-13.
Set three was like day and night when compared to the first two sets. The Matadors came out on fire, building up a 10 point lead. Coach Brande took a time out, hoping to disrupt CSUN’s rhythm, and it seemed to work. Although the ‘Eaters lost this set, they ultimately made it interesting, going on a 14-8 run and coming as close as 24-21. The comeback fell short when UCI’s outside hitter blocked a ball out of bounds to end the set.
The Anteaters would make the fourth and final set short and sweet, winning by 13 points at 25-12. This set was completely dominated by the ‘Eaters both on the offensive and defensive side, with 13 kills, 10 blocks and 11 digs. UCI converted .541 percent of the killing opportunities and held CSUN to a .192 kill percentage. The Matadors were never allowed to get into any sort of rhythm, and were instead forced to play at UCI’s tempo.
This gives the women’s volleyball team their first winning streak (two in a row) of the season, winning six of their last seven sets.
“We feel how good our steadiness is and realized the result. That will carry us further as we continue,” Brande said.
The Anteaters will look to build on this win as more conference opponents loom.

The UC Irvine women’s volleyball team suffered their first loss in the Big West Conference on Sunday against the Cal State Fullerton Titans, 1-3 (18-25, 17-25, 25-11, 21-25).
The defeat pushed the Anteater record to 7-9 overall and 2-1 in the Big West Conference.
Sophomore Kari Petolsi led the team with a season high of 17 digs in the loss against the Titans, while adding 16 kills. Devon Sutherland, who leads the league in digs per set, added 14 digs of her own. However, Senior Lauren Kellerman was held to just five kills against the Titans.
“It hurt us not having Lauren being able to score. She is a big part of our team; we need her to come out and be able to score every game,” said Head Coach Charlie Brande.
The Anteaters started out well with a 4-0 run in the first set, but the advantage disappeared as the Titans went on the offensive. Neither team gained an advantage of more than two points until the Titans went on a 5-0 run to lead 19-15. Cal State Fullerton went on to hold the lead and took the set at 25-17.
The second set was similar to the first with the Anteaters leading the Titans 7-4 in the third quarter only to fall behind 11-6 after the Titans went on a 6-0 run. UCI came close at 15-14, but the Titans soon went on another run to lead 23-16 and eventually took the third set 25-17.
“Fullerton came out more prepared for today’s game than we did. They executed very well throughout the match,” Sutherland said.
The Anteaters turned things around in the third set, leading early at 8-4. A kill from Petolsi sparked a 7-0 run to widen the margin for the Anteaters to 18-7. Irvine held on to take the third set 25-11, giving Cal State Fullerton its worst set loss of the season.
Fullerton was quick to take the momentum away from the Anteaters in the forth set, taking a lead of 10-5. The titans broadened the gap, eventually leading 19-9 until Coach Brande called timeout. The Anteaters slowly rallied back from the 10 point deficit with a 12-4 run cutting the lead to two, 23-21. However, it was too little as the Titans managed to squeeze by with a 25-21 win.
“The girls didn’t really have energy today until the third and fourth set. When they did show, it just wasn’t enough. As we mature we need to be able to play each game with the same intensity,” Brande said.
The Anteaters will face University of the Pacific in Stockton Oct. 10 at 7 p.m.