Non-Conference Schedule Stuffs ‘Eaters
UC Irvine 0, USD 3
After accumulating a 3-5 overall record, the Lady Anteaters were ready to return to Irvine for some home cooking. However, on Sept. 14, 23rd ranked University of San Diego decided to spoil UCI’s welcome back party.
The Toreros played the role of rude guest, sweeping the Anteaters in three sets, 20-25, 12-25 and 21-25. USD did not allow Kari Pestolesi and the rest of the offense to get into any sort of rhythm. USD held Pestolesi to 11 kills and a .200 killing percentage. The rest of the ’Eaters struggled to make an impact. Juliane Piggott notched five kills and as a team the Anteaters killed an abysmal .054 of their hitting opportunities. UC Irvine’s Marissa Alvarez, who is taking over for graduated senior Taryn Robertson, struggled to set the tempo for the offense. She tallied 18 assists in 66 attempts.
The low point for the Anteaters came in the second set when the Toreros overwhelmed the Anteaters 12-25.
UC Irvine 3, Liberty 2
The Anteaters needed every point in all five sets in order to escape with their first home win of the season. UC Irvine won a back and fourth match in five dramatic sets 25-22, 19-25, 25-17, 20-25 and 16-14.
Four players needed to step up and notch career highs for UCI to pull out the win. Pestolesi tallied a career high with 26 kills. Second year libero Kristen Winkler proved that she is not headed toward a sophomore slump. Winkler dug 32 balls, a career best. The 32 digs also tied Winkler with Brenda Waterman for the most digs in a single game in UC Irvine history.
Alvarez also played a major factor in UCI’s victory over liberty. The sophomore dished out a career high 53 assists and also recorded her third double-double of the season by adding 11 digs. Not to be outdone was freshman outside hitter Shaina Olsen. She recorded a personal best 11 kills.
In the first two sets, UCI struggled to put away any kills, converting .094 of their hitting opportunities in the first set and .071 in the second. After splitting the first two sets, UC Irvine needed to pull out a victory in the third set if they wanted to come out with a win.
The Anteaters had an offensive spark as they recorded a .314 killing percentage in the all-important third set.
With all the momentum favoring the Anteaters, Liberty refused to go into the night quietly. The Flames won the fourth set and gave the Anteaters everything they could handle in the fifth and final set.
In the last set, the Flames pounced on the Anteaters by jumping out to a quick 10-5 lead. Trailing 12-8, the Anteaters refused to lose and came back to tie the set up at 13 apiece. The Anteaters took over the lead when Pestolesi and Alex Hauser recorded a block. UCI was able to close out the set 16-14.
UC Irvine 1, UCLA 3
UC Irvine’s tough non-conference schedule continued when the Anteaters welcomed the 13th ranked UCLA Bruins. The ’Eaters battled tough but in the end the Bruins came out on top with a three set to one victory 19-25, 25-23, 14-25 and 25-15.
“We are right there and we are making a break through with the top teams but we just run out of gas in the end,” Weishoff said. “We are doing a lot of the right things, we can put a lot of pressure on the top teams, but we just have to keep grinding it out.”
UCI received contributions from both Piggott and Pestolesi. Piggott killed 15 balls and added 15 digs, while Pestolesi recorded 14 kills and 13 digs. Alvarez continued to make a steady transition into the starter’s role, as she recorded 29 assists.
In the opening set, the Anteaters took two out of the first three points. But from there the Bruins took over. The Bruins were able to exploit some of the holes in the Anteaters’ defense. UCLA overtook the lead at 8-4 but UCI displayed their tenacity and knotted the score at 12-12.
From that point on UCLA’s defense only grew stronger as it held the ’Eaters to a .095 killing percentage in the first set. The Bruins closed out the set on a 13-7 run.
The Anteaters and the Bruins opened the second set with an eight-all tie. Pestolesi gave the ’Eaters a point advantage when she fired a ball down the middle of the court that fell on UCLA’s side. The Bruins managed to stay close, as the set see-sawed from a one point UCI lead to a tie.
Tied at 21-21, UCI used a kill by senior outside hitter Larissa Nordyke and a Pestolesi ace to put them up two points. The Anteaters’ momentum was too much of a burden for the Bruins to handle as UCI won 25-23.
The Bruins proved to be too much for the ’Eaters in the third and fourth sets. UCLA won the third set closing out the game on a 15-5 run.
It was much the same in the fourth set. Although the Anteaters increased their hitting percentage from .064 in the third set to .167, it was not enough to put a chink in the Bruins’ armor. UCLA showed why they are ranked 13th in the nation as they led from start to finish, never allowing UCI to make a serious threat at the lead.
The Anteaters play one last non-conference match against the USC Trojans on Tuesday, Sept. 21 before starting up the Big West schedule on Sept. 24 and 25 against Cal Poly and UC Santa Barbara respectively.