Riverside Takes Irvine in Four

UC Irvine suffers a loss to UC Riverside for a 10-19 overall record and a 5-10 conference record.

On Thursday evening at Crawford Court, the UC Riverside Highlanders defeated the ’Eaters three sets to one. After the Highlanders took the first two games (25-23, 26-24), ’Eater fans regained hope when UCI took the third 25-19.

Nearly 200 fans were on the edge of their seats hoping the ’Eaters would make it an even two sets to two, but alas, the Highlanders took home the win with a 25-21 finish.

Red-shirt freshman Marisa Bubica led the game with 15 kills, while Ella Rosenfeld was close behind with 13. With two first-years making such impressive dents in the game, one can hope that this is an indicator for a strong four years to come.

Senior Kristen Winkler contributed an impressive 25 digs, while Junior Aly Squires came in second with 12. These upperclassmen have been a force to be reckoned with, each being crowd favorites to keep an eye on.

Although UCI did not bring home the win, every set was evenly matched. The ’Eaters played hard, but it appears the Highlanders just edged the ’Eaters in aggressiveness in the last set.

The two teams were well matched, making it hard to look away, wondering who would make the next point and how. One could even say that there seemed to be plays that were personal on the Highlanders side, as they repeatedly went after ’Eaters captain Winkler by sending their kills directly toward her. Winkler remained active in reacting fast and keeping composure, proving the ’Eaters well matched.

“I think we didn’t go out there and execute. I don’t think we were as disciplined as we should’ve been. Riverside was the better team tonight, so you have to give it to them,” Winkler said, seemingly unaware of how impressively she and her team had played and how disciplined they appeared to be.

The first two games of the night were close calls, with the scores being neck to neck each set (25-23, 26-24). The ’Eaters kept their composure even when they were feeling the pressure.

One player who stood out in particular was senior Taylor Smith. Although Smith, a right-side hitter from Los Altos, CA, didn’t hold the most kills or digs that night, she stood out for being a skilled player because of how she assisted her teammates in multiple plays and how she was able to remain resilient.

“Taylor is a very selfless person. She is one of the hardest workers on the team. She supports everyone and is one of the team’s biggest cheerleaders,” Squires said.

After losing their second set of the night, the ’Eaters were feeling more pressure than ever to win their third set. The team worked well together and defeated the Highlanders (25-19). There was now a promise of a potential win in the last game of the evening.

With tension high, the ’Eaters went into what they would soon learn was the last set of the night.

The Highlanders, most likely shocked by UCI’s comeback in the last round, felt and used the pressure of the loss in the third round to propel them to a win in the last game. With a 25-21 finish, the ’Eaters left the court disappointed and defeated. Each team remained focused and strong while they battled it out, but unfortunately, it wasn’t our home team that stole this victory.

“I think we’ve had some good moments and some bad moments. I do think this team is capable of doing great things. It’s just a matter of us going out there and doing it every night,” Winkler said, upon being asked how she feels the season has gone so far.

To see the ’Eaters in action, their next game near home is on November 17 against LBSU.