The UC Irvine women’s volleyball team made a greater push for the post-season as they recorded two much needed victories against Cal State Fullerton and Cal State Northridge last week on the road. With the wins, the Anteaters improved their record to 12-11 overall, but to a more important 7-3 in Big West conference play. The Anteaters got some much needed help from eighth- ranked UC Davis, who upset second-ranked Cal Poly San Luis Obispo 3-1 on Saturday.
UCI is now third in the Big West, but is not far behind Long Beach State (7-2) and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (8-3). A win or a loss any way can shake up the standings.
UCI 3 CSUF 1
After a two set lead, UCI was pushed to the fifth set against a tough Cal State Fullerton squad. However, the Anteaters would come out with the 25-23, 25-11, 23-25, 19-25, 15-8 win at Titan Gym.
Lauren Kellerman put together a clutch performance in the fifth set as she recorded six kills with only one error. She finished the match with an Anteater-high 19 kills. Libero Devon Sutherland recorded a season high of 29 digs; UCI had a season high 91 digs as a team. Kari Pestolesi fired 10 kills and 13 digs. Setter Taryn Robertson nearly recorded a rare triple-double with a whopping 50 assists, 18 digs and seven kills. She even recorded four blocks on the match.
UCI found itself in a 14-10 deficit in game one until Kellerman fired a shot from the back row. A kill and ace from Sutherland would cut the lead to one, and the Anteaters would eventually knot the match up at 20. Back to back kills by Shannon Homan and Alexandra Filkins gave UCI a 24-22 lead. Robertson would dish out the final assist to Homan on a slide to end the set.
UCI dominated set two as they came out firing to a 11-3 lead. They would go up by as much as 15 (24-9) on a Pestolesi kill. She would then respond to consecutive points by the Titans with a kill to end the match at 25-11.
CSU Fullerton killed the Anteater moment and built a 10-6 lead in the third quarter. The Anteaters would battle back to within one (18-17), but an attack error by Robertson and Titan kill gave Fullerton a three-point lead. The Titans would win the set 23-25.
The Titans would pound in game three as they built an early lead and won the set 25-19.
The fifth set was neutral as UCI began with a slight 8-7 lead. UCI built a 12-8 lead off Robertson and Kellerman kills. Kellerman fired another kill to put UCI up by five. A Sutherland-Homan block would give UCI match point, where Kellerman fittingly put away a kill for the win.
UCI 3 CSUN 1
On Saturday, UCI defeated CSUN 20-25, 25-18, 25-18, 25-21 at the Matadome.
UCI put on a blocking clinic as they registered 20 to CSUN 12. Alex Hauser lead the Anteaters with five blocks as Homan and Robertson added four apiece.
Pestolesi lead all players with 16 kills and Alexandra Filkins recorded a career-high of 12 kills. Kellerman added 12 kills and Sutherland continued her hot streak on the service line with three aces.
UCI broke out to an early 12-9 lead in the first set. CSUN rallied back with a six-run rally and stole the first set 20-25 on an Anteater error.
UCI took care of business in the second set as they took the early lead again at 11-6 and held on to it. CSUN would cut it to within two at 19-17, but UCI rattled off five straight points and took the set on a Matador error.
CSUN would come out with the 10-6 lead in game three, but that lead would not hold for long as UCI scored four consecutive points to tie the match. The teams would trade points until they were tied at 14 when a Pestolesi-Homan block sparked an ‘Eater rally. UCI went on to win the set 25-18.
UCI achieved the lead at 3-2 in the last set and never gave it up. At 12-11, UCI went on an eight-run rally to extend the lead to 20-11. Appropriately, the Lady Anteaters orchestrated a triple block of Hauser, Robertson and Kellerman to take the win.
UCI returns home to take on UC Davis and Pacific on Friday and Saturday at Crawford Court.