Lady Anteaters Fall to Hawaii
The UC Irvine Women’s Volleyball team fell to no. 6 Hawaii in four sets on Saturday night. After losing the first two sets, the Lady Anteaters came out firing and quickly took command of the third set before losing the fourth set and the match.
Ironically, this seemed like a home game to the visiting Rainbow Wahine. Playing in front of a sold out Crawford Hall, Hawaii felt right at home with the majority of the crowd representing the Rainbow Wahine with noise makers and pom-poms. At one point during the third set with UC Irvine up 21-20, the Hawaii crowd started a ’Bows chant, to which the Anteater home crowd responded with disappointing silence.
The Anteaters started the first set extremely well, and showed great poise against a relentless Hawaii team that is undefeated in conference play so far. Down by only three points, the Lady Anteaters struggled to keep up with Hawaii’s strong attack, and finished the first set on the wrong end of an eight to two run.
Despite being down early, UC Irvine fought hard throughout the game, with players continuously encouraging each other following every mistake or missed serve. In one instance when UC Irvine took their first time-out down 4-1, Aly Squires ran to the bench cheering on her teammates and screaming “so close!”
And close it would remain. Despite losing the three sets by an average of eight points, the ’Eaters kept the ’Bows on their heels by constantly fighting back. In the third set the grit paid off for the Lady Anteaters, as they took a commanding 8-2 lead, and were leading for the majority of the set. The Rainbow Wahine would not go down without a fight however, and eventually tied the game at 15, and again at 18, 19 and 20, before the ’Eaters were able to pull away and win the set 25-22.
Despite the third set victory, the overall loss was tough for UC Irvine, they were able to hand Hawaii just their ninth lost set of the season. Led by freshman Cassidy Pickrell, the Anteaters showed their potential with a nearly flawless third set, and only four errors after making nine mistakes in the second. Pickrell was one of three players to record 11 kills on the night, joining Squires and Arielle Manz. A gallant effort by the Lady Anteaters, but UC Irvine had no answer for Big West leader in kills per game, Emily Hartong. Hartong finished the match with a jaw-dropping 25 kills, and the Hawaii Rainbow Wahine continued plowing through opponents.
This was the final home game for UC Irvine before they embark on a two game road trip to face UC Davis and Cal State Northridge. The loss was the fourth in a row for them, but the effort shown in the game is hopefully something they can work off of and continue to improve as the season progresses.