Blue Owns Black: UCI Tops #24 LB State

Scott Roeder | Staff Photographer

Scott Roeder | Staff Photographer
Kari Pestolesi pummels the ball over the net during Thursday nights upset win over rival Long Beach State.

The 49ers of Long Beach State came into Crawford Court on Thursday night with the 24th ranking in the nation and a single blemish on their Big West Conference record at 4-1.
This would soon change once the women of UC Irvine stepped out on to the court, flexing their muscles with sheer domination and taking the match in four sets 20-25, 25-12, 25-23 and 25-21. The Anteaters received huge contributions from outside hitter Lauren Kellerman, with 18 kills, and junior Alexandra Filkins, who recorded a career high with five block assists.
This was the win the Anteaters were looking for all season long, and it could not have come at a better time. After a tough non-conference schedule, the Anteaters finally defeated a ranked opponent and it was a big win over our rival. UCI is now 4-3 in conference and in contention for the Big West title.
The first set would prove to be a problem for the women’s volleyball team, losing it 20-25. The Anteaters came out flat, looking as if they were not ready to play, and committed nine errors in total, five attack and four service errors. “We came out excited to play and let a couple go in the beginning,” Kellerman said.
The 49ers were able to take advantage of the UCI miscues, taking seven of the first 10 points and ultimately building up a seven-point-lead at 16-9. After trailing the set 18-12, UCI’s Kari Pestolesi would come to serve and force the momentum to the Anteaters with a huge service ace. Although the ‘Eaters would go on to lose the set, this seems to be the rallying point for the team that got them back into the match.
The lady Anteaters looked completely different in set number two, having their way with the 49ers and defeating them by 13 points at 25-12.
“We started making some good plays and talked about controlling the tempo, and that is what happened for us in the second set,” said Head Coach Charlie Brande.
UCI would trail at 5-4, but after that they never looked back, taking the next seven points with authority. Junior setter Taryn Robertson contributed with four big kills that kept Long Beach in check. The Anteaters played suffocating defense, only allowing the 49ers to covert .062 percent of their killing opportunities.
After splitting the first two sets, the third one would decide who would control the momentum for the rest of the match.
“The third set was very important for us. I told the girls that this set would decide the match,” Brande said.
The Anteaters started sluggishly and trailed Long Beach at 6-4, but UCI was able to take the next two points and tie the set at 6-6. Pestolesi would again record another service ace that put the Anteaters in the driver seat for good. Although UCI was not able to build more than a four-point-lead, they did manage to keep the 49ers frustrated with huge blocks, recording seven in sets two and three.
“Our coaching staff gave us a great scouting report and we were able to execute,” Kellerman said.
The Anteaters would go on to win 25-23 and control the match at two games to one.
The fourth set was much the same: UCI domination and Long Beach frustration. The Anteaters came roaring out of the gate, building a 14-6 lead. After two questionable calls that went UCI’s way, Long Beach was able to battle back, cutting the lead to two points at 16-14. However, Kari Pestolesi recorded a huge kill, putting the Anteaters up at 19-16. UCI would go on to take the set at 25-21.