Losing Games, Not Patience
UC Irvine concluded their non-conference schedule on Tuesday, Sept. 21 by welcoming one of the most storied programs in women’s volleyball: the USC Trojans. The Anteaters attempted to derail the Trojans by giving them their first loss of the season.
The Anteaters battled tough but, in the end, the Trojans’ muscle and power proved to be too much as the ’Eaters fell in three sets: 16-25, 18-25 and 11-25.
“[This year’s non-conference schedule] was a lot tougher than last year. I think we definitely learned a lot about our team and each other,” sophomore Marissa Alvarez said. “We got pushed really hard and it will prepare us that much more for conference [play].”
Kari Pestolesi recorded a team high in both kills and digs with nine and 14, respectively. Alvarez helped the Anteaters’ cause by dishing out 16 assists. Freshman setter Mary Carls also made her presence felt, handing out 10 assists in the loss against USC.
The first set was not much of a contest, as the Trojans overwhelmed the Anteaters by firing a barrage of balls. The Women of Troy accumulated a hitting percentage of .303 while holding the Anteaters to .054.
The third set saw much of the same as the Trojans displayed their ability to overpower opposing teams. USC quickly put the pressure on the Anteaters by taking the first six points of the set, and 11 out of the first 15.
Although the Anteaters had no answer for the Trojans’ muscle in the first and third sets, the ’Eaters clearly frustrated the Women of Troy in the second set. UCI went toe-to-toe and point-for-point with the bigger Trojan team. UCI nabbed the first three points of the set but USC quickly responded with a 4-0 run.
Down one point, at 3-4, Pestolesi, senior Juliane Piggott and sophomore Taylor Smith made sure the Trojans did not run away with the set. UCI and USC exchanged knockout punches, as the second game saw 11 ties and three lead changes. Knotted up at 18 apiece, the Trojans were able to pull away and take the second set.
UC Irvine 2, Cal Poly 3
Cal Poly’s outside hitter Catie Smith smacked the ball, trying to exploit a hole in the Anteaters’ defense. However, UCI’s Alex Hauser extended her hands in the air and stuffed Cal Poly’s shot. The Mustangs were unable to keep the ball in play, and the ref awarded the point to the ’Eaters.
The scoreboard read 25-22, and the Anteaters took the second set. The 507 fans who packed into the Bren Events Center were in jubilation, as it looked like UCI was going to put an end to the Mustangs’ eight-game winning streak, and earn their first win against a conference opponent.
But once the third set began, the team fell apart.
The Anteaters’ defense totaled 90 digs and 17 blocks, while Pestolesi notched 20 kills. However, those efforts went in vain as the UCI Lady Anteaters could not hold off Cal Poly. Despite jumping out to a 2-0 set lead, the Anteaters could not find a way to hold on and managed to lose the match in five games: 25-23, 25-22, 24-26, 23-25 and 10-15.
“We must keep our heads high and we must continue to play hard,” said freshman outside hitter Alyssa Squires. “We are fine, we have the rest of the conference to play and we are going to win.”
Squires frustrated the Mustangs, as her defense played an important role in the match. She managed to deflect eight shots and helped the offensive attack as she recorded eight kills in the match.
UC Irvine 0, UCSB 3
After losing a nail-biter to the Mustangs the previous night, the Anteaters took the court once again to face the Gauchos of Santa Barbara.
It was the same result for the Anteaters but it was not as dramatic as the night before, as the Gauchos swept the ’Eaters in three sets: 20-25, 22-25 and 20-25.
UC Irvine struggled to find any sort of offensive rhythm, as Coach Weishoff was forced to play three setters.
In the first set, the Anteaters converted .163 of their hitting opportunities, while in the second set the ’Eaters committed ten attack errors, which brought their kill percentage down to an abysmal .000.
In the second set, the Anteaters killed for a .239 percentage but that was not enough to pull out a victory.
The Gauchos feasted on the Anteaters inexistent offensive, as they out-killed UCI 44 to 37 and out-dug them 62 to 59.
The loss against UCSB puts the Anteaters at a 4-10 record, with a three-game losing streak. UC Irvine will try and right the ship when they travel up north to face Pacific and UC Davis.