Anteaters 0-2 in Big West

UC Irvine 1 Long Beach State 3

UC Irvine women’s volleyball team was defeated its conference opener to Long Beach State last Friday night, falling 1-3 (25-21, 23-25, 26-24, 25-21) at Crawford Hall.

Both teams came into Friday’s game holding a 10-4 record as well as the distinction of winning 10 of their last 12 games.

Though the two teams matched one another in team blocks 7-7 and digs at 83 apiece, the 49ers pulled through by holding the Anteaters to .190 hitting while hitting for .229 in the match.

The first set was hotly contested, with neither team being able to maintain more than a 3 point lead through the majority of the game. UC Irvine led early on,  but they were never able to pull away from their Black and Blue Rivals whom proceed to take the lead for good at 19-18 off an error by the Anteaters and into a 24-18 lead for five match points. Irvine rallied to within 21, but a cross court winner by outside hitter Bren Mackie would secure the opening set for the Beach.

UC Irvine was held to .163 hitting in the first set, but mounted an offensive comeback in the second set off the backs of Cassidy Pickrell and Allison Lee. Irvine was more efficient this time around, shooting .295 in the second set as the pair of Pickrell and Lee combined for 9 kills. With both teams tied at 21-21, senior guard Marisa Bubica would step up and score the last four points for the Anteaters to bring the crowd to its feet and tie the match.

It was another closely contested game in the third set, until Long Beach found an opening by taking the largest lead of the game at 20-16 off a net violation by Irvine. Irvine battled back within two at 22-24 off a kill by Pickrell, whom proceeded to deliver another two kills to even the game at 24-24 for Irvine while also drawing a timeout from the Beach. Mackie would step and slam the ball for a kill to put an end to the Anteaters’ run. Long Beach would secure the set the following point when Irvine’s attack failed to clear the net.

Long Beach would hold UC Irvine to its worst hitting set of the match at a meager .105 in the fourth, and leapt towards an 18-11 lead despite a quiet 2-5 start in the set. UC Irvine was able to mount a rally and get back to within 2 at 21-19, but LBSU would respond with a trio consecutive of kills from Ashley Murray to retain the lead and secure the win.

“It was a hard fought match, and I think the fight was there. We let them have runs at points, and it’s extremely hard when you give teams two to three runs at points a set. There were times when we played really well and we came back, but it was too late in the match,” head coach Paula Weishoff said.

The Anteaters (10-5, 0-1) were led by  Pickrell and Lee with 21 and 17 kills respectively. Shelley Anderson finished with 45 assists.

“I think we definitely fought. We started a little slow when we started the game, but I think we definitely stepped up our game and kept fighting,” Pickrell said. “That’s why we won the second game and I think we should’ve taken the third set from them; just too many errors on our part.”

UCI 2 CSUN 3

Looking to claim their first win in the Big West, the Anteaters were denied by Cal State Northridge the following Saturday night at home. UC Irvine got off to a strong start, winning the first two sets, but the Matadors would come back to take the next three sets to hold a 3-2 (23-25, 15-25, 25-16, 25-16, 16-14) victory over the Anteaters.

The ‘Eaters traded points with the Matadors in the first set, with both teams remaining even until a pair of aces by Lee and a kill by Pickrell would put them ahead for good at 22-20.

Leading 11-9 in the second set, UC Irvine managed to distance themselves from their opponents by jumping ahead to a five-point lead (15-10) off a pair of kills by Arielle Manz. The Anteaters would never look back, holding as high as a 10 point lead at 24-14 before Pickrell slammed yet another kill to clinch the set.

In the third set UC Irvine looked to be in control at 10-7 early in the game. However, the Matadors mounted a rally, coming from behind to build a seven point lead at 23-16 before eventually taking the set.

Tied at 11-11 in the fourth, CSUN responded with a 5-1 run to put themselves ahead at 16-12, taking the lead for good and pushing Irvine to a decisive fifth set.

In the final set neither team was able to establish a definitive lead as they remained neck and neck with one another. UCI had a chance to put the match away following a series of attack errors by CSUN at 14-13, but was thwarted by pair of consecutive aces by CSUN’s Ciena Stinson to face match point themselves (14-15). Natalie Allen would seal the comeback for the Matadors off of a service ace and push the ‘Eaters to 0-2 in the Big West.