Titans, 49ers Defeat Anteaters
UC Irvine 0, Long Beach St. 3
Despite hosting two more home games, UC Irvine women’s volleyball decided to have senior night on Thursday, Nov. 18, the final game of the season that would be held at the Bren Events Center. UCI said goodbye to arguably one of the best volleyball players in school history, Kari Pestolesi.
“It’s been fun. I had no idea what to expect,” Pestolesi said. “Playing against some of the best teams and players was really fun.”
UCI also honored four other seniors: Juliane Piggott, Riley Cropper, Larissa Nordyke and Ashley Bosza.
With a 7-20 overall record and no postseason aspirations, UCI attempted to embrace the role of spoiler last Thursday as they hosted the 21-6 Long Beach State 49ers.
As the first set opened up, the 49ers looked like they waltzed into a dogfight against the Anteaters. UCI held LBSU to a .196 hitting percentage and recorded one less attacking error than the 49ers. Although the 49ers led from start to finish, they had trouble creating separation from the Anteaters. The ’Eaters managed to stay close behind until the score reached 18-19.
From that point on, the 49ers rode the back of a behemoth 6-foot-6-inch middle blocker and an agile 5-foot-7-inch outside hitter. The Beach closed out the first game by taking six of the last seven points in the game.
“These players give their heart,” Coach Paula Weishoff said. “No excuses, but we have so many injuries that we are putting people together with band aids, but they still come out here and compete.”
The Anteaters failed to recover from a first set loss, losing in three sets: 19-25, 17-25 and 18-25.
Pestolesi recorded 10 kills and freshman setter Mary Carls handed out 26 helpers in the losing effort. Also making contributions were Piggott and freshman Alyssa Squires, both players notched six kills.
In the second set, The Beach forced UCI into 11 errors and limited them to a -.026 hitting percentage. The ’Eaters’ struggles continued in the third set. The Lady Anteaters committed seven attack errors and converted .111 of their killing opportunities.
UC Irvine 1, CSU Fullerton 3
The Cal State Fullerton Titans walked into Crawford Court on Friday, Nov. 19 with the weight of the world on their shoulders. The Titans’ needed to win their last two matches in order to clinch their first ever Big West Title in program history.
However, the Anteaters entered the match with hopes of spoiling Fullerton’s party. Early on in the match, the Anteaters made sure that this game was not going to be a cakewalk for the Titans.
“We had a good game plan and the girls were ready to play tonight,” Weishoff said. “But it is unfortunate that we had some errors here and there and some bad calls.”
The ’Eaters threw everything at Fullerton, but in the end, the Titans defeated the Anteaters in four sets: 17-25, 25-23, 22-25 and 19-25.
Piggott totaled a team high 18 kills while Squires added another 10. Carls recorded 38 assists in the loss.
UCI opened the first set ready to go toe-to-toe with Fullerton. The opening set featured five tie scores and two lead changes. Despite being held to a .206 hitting percentage, the Anteaters kept it close. But the fact that UCI had no answer for CSUF’s offense gave them the advantage to close out the set. The Titans converted .375 of their killing opportunities.
After losing a hard-fought first set, the Anteaters came out with even more intensity in the second game. The ’Eaters’ defense gave the Titans no breathing room as the CSUF’s hitting percentage dipped to .102 in the second game. The Lady Anteaters’ offense also picked up as they hit .222 and recorded 15 kills. Down 20-17, the Anteaters rallied and ended the set on an 8-3 run to tie the match at one set apiece.
In the third set, the Lady Anteaters found themselves trailing 20-17, but unlike the second set, they failed to come back from the deficit. In the fourth and final set, the Anteaters trailed 20-16 and looked to take momentum away from the Titans.
However, UCI freshman Shannon Fleming was called for a net violation, which crushed UCI’s hopes in coming back and going into a fifth set.
With the loss, the Lady Anteaters drop to 7-22 overall and 3-13 in conference. The Anteaters close out the season on Saturday, Nov. 27 when they host Akron at Crawford Court.