The UC Irvine women’s volleyball team started the second half of Big West play by dominating the UC Riverside Highlanders in a three-set sweep, taking the match 25-9, 25-9, 25-16.
The match was won by an incredible team effort by the Lady Anteaters.While no player recorded double digit kills or digs, eight Anteaters recorded at least one kill and seven at least one dig. Coach Brande was particularly impressed with the team effort the Anteaters showcased.
“I thought it was a great team effort. Everybody contributed and everybody had a role in the success of the team tonight,” Brande said.
The Anteaters logged season highs in both service aces and hitting percentage with 11 aces and a .375 kill percentage. Sophomore outside hitter Kari Pestolesi matched a career high by firing off five service aces, all of which came in the second set. Senior libero Devon Sutherland added a season-high four service aces of her own. UCI held UCR to just a .037 hitting percentage for the match.
UCI came out in the first set with a ton of energy. They played tenacious defense, holding the Highlanders to an abysmal .103 hitting percentage in the set. Frustrated, Riverside was forced to take a time out down, 8-19. Even after the time out, the Anteaters closed the set by going on a 6-1 run, winning the first set 25-9.
The second set was similar to the first. UCR was still unable to find a rhythm, never winning more than two points in a row. However, the Highlanders managed to stay within striking distance of the lady Anteaters for the first third of the set, keeping the game tied at 7-7. UCI then exploded on an 18-2 run to take the set 25-9. The run featured jaw-dropping four service aces by UCI’s Pestolesi.
The final set featured more Anteater domination. The first few points were traded between the two teams, until UCI went on a 6-0 run anchored by junior setter Taryn Robertson’s serves to pull away, taking a 10-4 advantage. The Anteaters would cruise the rest of the set, taking the final point on a monster kill from sophomore outside hitter Larissa Nordyke, winning 25-16.
Coach Brande was impressed with the team’s focus for the entire game. Pestolesi also credited the dominating performance to the team’s concentration, as well as the scouting report.
“We all played well and were all really focused. We all knew what they were going to do. We had a good scouting report, [and] we were just very well prepared for the match,” Pestolesi said.
The win at home gives the UCI women’s volleyball team a 10-11 overall record and a 5-3 record in Big West Conference play. The Anteaters will face Cal State Fullerton and Cal State Northridge in two away matches next week.