Women’s Volleyball Turns It Around

Greg Thompson | Staff Photographer

Greg Thompson | Staff Photographer
Senior Lauren Kellerman’s strike turned the momentum toward UCI en route to a 26-24 third set victory.

The UC Irvine women’s volleyball team completed its season sweep of UC Santa Barbara with a 27-29, 25-20, 16-25, 25-13, 15-10 victory on Friday at Crawford Court.
Shannan Homan recorded a career-high 16 kills while Devon Sutherland picked up a career-high 31 digs. Kari Pestolesi fired 17 kills and 28 digs, and Alexandra Filkins finished with 10 kills and 13 digs. Setter Taryn Robertson recorded a career-high 59 assists and had four block assists on the match.
The teams were going back and forth in each set, which set up for a thrilling final set. In the set, Lauren Kellerman and Homan combined for 10 of the 14 UCI kills. Kellerman finished with a game-high 19 kills. Homan was errorless as she converted five of six kill attempts to help the Anteaters keep their post season hopes alive and setting up a thrilling two vs. three matchup on Saturday.

UCI 3 Cal Poly 1
In the final match of the regular season, the UC Irvine women’s volleyball team made a huge stride in its hopes of making the NCAA tournament by defeating the Cal Poly Mustangs 20-25, 25-16, 26-24 and 28-26.
The two teams were tied with 11-4 records prior to the match, but UCI rose to 12-4 to finish second in the Big West.
Sophomore Kari Pestolesi turned in a strong performance with 18 kills and 19 digs. Junior Alex Filkins gave a nice boost to the Anteaters, recording career highs in kills and digs with 16 and 18, respectively. Junior Taryn Robertson also recorded a career high with nine kills while adding 58 assists. Senior Shannan Homan followed her 16-kill performance with 11 kills.
The first set was an offensive onslaught, with Cal Poly firing a .441 hitting percentage and UCI a .302 percentage. Cal Poly jumped to an early lead in the set and the Anteaters found themselves down 4-9 at one point, but were able to rally back, tying the game at 16 with a Pestolesi kill. However, UCI was unable to keep the momentum and lost the set 20-25.
UCI took an early 9-6 lead in the second set on a Cal Poly error. The Mustangs never managed to claim the lead in the set, and UCI concluded the set with a 7-0 run, capped by two kills from hitter Lauren Kellerman to win it 25-16.
After halftime, UCI gained a quick lead at 11-6, forcing Cal Poly to take a timeout. The Mustangs came roaring out of the timeout and cut the deficit to one at 13-12. The Anteaters then went on a run of their own, stretching the lead to 22-15 and prompting another Cal Poly timeout. Again, the Mustangs were able to rally back and tie the set up at 23 and eventually 24. A kill by Filkins broke the tie and the Anteaters took the set 26-24 on another Cal Poly error.
UCI found itself in an early hole down 6-11 in the final set, causing Coach Brande to take a time out. UCI got as close as 14-15, but Cal Poly maintained a slight lead for the majority of the set until two Kellerman kills would tie the set at 23 and again at 26. The Anteaters won the set 28-26 with clutch plays, as Filkins coolly closed the match with back-to-back kills from Robertson.
When asked about the game plan in the two tight sets, Coach Brande said, “I told the girls to stay aggressive play after play. Good things will happen when you’re willingly aggressive.”
Filkins followed Coach Brande’s plan to perfection with two timely kills to win the match. “It was an amazing feeling, [Cal Poly player] Ali Waller had her arms up and I didn’t see a digger behind her, so I just went for it,” Filkins said.
UCI’s hopes for a postseason appearance now rest in the hands of the NCAA selection committee.