Volleyball’s Growing Pains

ALEX YEE | Staff Photographer

UCI 3, UCR 1

In light of last week’s ominous gloom, the Lady Anteaters were able to find a glimmer of hope on Oct. 5. Going into Tuesday night’s game, the Anteaters were riding a six-game losing streak, suffering a disastrous trip to Northern California.

UC Irvine got back into the win column, beating the Highlanders of UC Riverside in four sets: 23-25, 25-20, 25-23 and 25-21.

“We were close in the first set but we never lost confidence,” sophomore Kristin Winkler said. “It is better to take care of it in four sets than in five.”

Winkler was one of the reasons why the Anteaters out-dug the Highlanders 69-65 as she recorded 27 digs in the match. Juliane Piggott led the ’Eaters with 17 kills while Kari Pestolesi added another 14. Freshman outside hitter Alyssa Squires made significant contributions by recording 11 kills.

Once again, Coach Paula Weishoff relied on the setter by committee to pull out the victory. Freshman setter Mary Carls led the trio with 18 assists while sophomore Marissa Alvarez tallied 15. Senior Ashley Bosza provided a spark for the Anteaters as she recorded 10 assists.

In the opening set, the Anteaters looked to take a 1-0 set lead as they led the game at 18-15.
However, a combination of UCI miscues and Riverside kills spoiled a first-set victory. In the first set, the Anteaters recorded more kills, digs and had a better kill percentage than the Highlanders, but that was not enough for an ’Eater win.

After dropping the first set that could have clearly gone UCI’s way, the Anteaters stormed back to take the next three games.

“We didn’t focus on the past, we just focused on what we needed to do,” Weishoff said. “We needed to stay aggressive and that helped us forget about the past.”

The Anteaters were able to pull out a victory in the second game, because they held the Highlanders to a .118 hitting percentage.

After going point for point in the third set, UCI saw their rhythm slip away when Piggott smacked a ball into the net. Trailing by one point and looking to gain some momentum back, Weishoff decided to insert Bosza. The senior setter came through, recording four assists in the late stages of the third set.

In the final set, the Anteaters came out on top, notching 17 kills and 14 digs.

UCI 2, LMU 3

Alvarez ran to the center of the court and passed the ball to Pestolesi. The senior outside hitter did the rest, as she fired a fastball toward the left side of the LMU court. The ref awarded the point to the Anteaters and the scoreboard read 12-11, in favor of the Anteaters.

With the point, UCI took the lead for the first time in the final set. LMU’s head coach, Tom Black was forced to take a timeout in an attempt to stop the Anteater momentum and silence the 692 fans that packed Crawford Court.

“Keep running the game plan. We don’t have to be great, we just have to be good right now. We need to keep the ball in, we need to work the court and we need to stay aggressive,” Coach Paula Weishoff told her team during the timeout.

The timeout proved to be vital for the Lions, as they ripped the momentum away from the Anteaters and took the next four out of five points to end the match. The ’Eaters lost the match in five sets: 27-29, 15-25, 25-23, 25-22 and 13-15.

“It is just a matter of serve and pass,” Alvarez said. “We came back but we couldn’t close it out. We need to work on our consistency.”

Alvarez led the team with 27 assists while Bosza and Carls each added 11 of their own. Senior Juliane Piggott notched a team high of 15 kills, while teammate Pestolesi added another 11.
Despite being on the short end of these stats, the Lady Anteaters forced a game five after dropping the first two.

Trailing 7-10 in the third set, Coach Weishoff decided to insert Ashley Bosza. The senior setter came off the bench and made an instant impact by being the spark plug on two consecutive kills and helped the team when the third set.

The Anteaters won the fourth set, forcing a fifth game, but the Lions crushed the ’Eaters’ comeback.

With the loss, the Anteaters fall to 5-13 on the season.