Senior Night did not end as happily as was hoped for. The UC Irvine women’s volleyball team (10-19) lost in a very close game to Central Michigan University in five sets on Nov. 26 at Crawford Court.
Sophomore Aly Squire had a team-high 17 kills and senior Pauline Acres had 10 kills. Senior Lauren Allen had her first double-double with 15 assists and 10 digs, while sophomores Shannon Fleming and Arielle Manz both had six block assists and eight kills.
“It was pretty tough losing this game, especially sending out our seniors out that way, but we’re really close this year and we worked hard,” said Squires. “On the long deuce on fourth set, we lost the momentum and confidence. We kept getting game point but we never finished it.”
In the first set, Fleming, who recorded a career-high four baseline winners in this match, got the team on an early lead at 13-9 with a service ace. However, Central Michigan scored four consecutive points and would catch up to UCI at 13-13.
On the next play, the Chippewas made an error and the Anteaters started to find momentum as they played to a 21-14 lead. Central Michigan’s their last unforced error gave UCI the first set as they won 25-16.
Irvine lost all their momentum from the first set, conceding an eight-point run. The Anteaters committed many errors and the Chippewas made many kills. Central Michigan gained a lot of momentum in this second set and forced UCI to call a timeout as the Chippewas led 12-4. However, the timeout did not do much as Central Michigan kept on scoring.
The Anteaters hindered themselves by committing a total of six errors, giving up many points as they trailed 21-8.
In the third set, the ’Eaters rebounded and had the early lead. UCI managed to consistently block Central Michigan’s kills and the Chippewas made a couple of errors in the beginning of the set. Manz and Acres together made a block assist to keep the slim lead 14-12.
Central Michigan was given three consecutive attempts to tie the game but could not manage to do so as they committed untimely errors, leading them to call a timeout. The timeout did not do anything for the Chippewas as UCI made a service ace and a couple of kills to stretch the lead.
UCI maintained a three-point lead for almost the entire set. Again, Central Michigan had another chance to tie the game after a UCI error but committed an error themselves to lose their chance. Manz made a solid kill and UCI successfully blocked Central Michigan’s kills which forced another Chippewa timeout with UCI leading 20-16.
After the timeout, UCI kept their momentum going with a four-point run. Squires had a couple of kills to push the lead and Fleming aced the Chippewas twice to win the third set 25-16.
The fourth set was truly a battle. Central Michigan took the lead with a block and three consecutive errors by UCI, which gave them a four-point run in the beginning of the set. UCI had to call a timeout, and after the break, they started to score with blocks and kills.
The ’Eaters gave up a series of errors in the beginning of the set to give the Chippewas an early lead, leading to a second UCI timeout. Again, the timeout did not benefit UCI as the players committed net violations and a couple of unforced errors. Again, Central Michigan, like during the second set, started getting good locations to find solid kills and led 20-15.
However, UCI rallied to cut the deficit by one with two consecutive kills and two consecutive aces by Winkler to force a Central Michigan timeout with the score 20-19. After the timeout, Central Michigan started to score but UCI managed to tie the game with a kill by Acres to force another Chippewas timeout.
The two teams kept exchanging points as the game tied at 25 apiece. There were 11 tie breakers during the tiebreaker but Central Michigan won the set through a block and a kill to tie the game up at two sets apiece. UCI had six chances for victory but Central Michigan went through to finish it off.
The Chippewas continued their momentum as they had four consecutive points to lead 4-1, forcing UCI to take a timeout. After the timeout, Central Michigan kept on scoring with their kills as they stretched the lead 11-6. Errors plagued the Anteaters as they eventually set the Chippewas up for match point. UCI tried to stay alive with three consecutive points but could not get the lead as Central Michigan won the final set 15-10.
“It’s always tough when you lose when we had so many opportunities to win, especially the fourth set, but I told them downstairs that this was our rebuilding year,” said Coach Weishoff. “It’s a shame we can’t end in a good note but I don’t look at wins and losses as the ultimate goal. The team for the most part all year long worked hard.”