Anteaters Sweep Aggies, Go 4-4 in Conference
Cassidy Pickrell would not be denied on her birthday, contributing 15 kills and 16 digs to a 3-0 (28-26, 26-24, 25-16) sweep against UC Davis, this past Saturday night at the Bren Center. UC Irvine improves to an overall record of 14-7 and 4-3 in the Big West after a 0-3 start to conference play.
“We just stayed patient, we took care of the ball, we took care of our side. That’s what we talk about every single day of practice, and it went our way,” said head coach Paula Weishoff.
Fourth-year Allison Lee added a double-double of her own with 14 kills and 14 digs. Second-year Shelley Anderson orchestrated the Anteater offensive, totaling 45 of the team’s 50 assists. Holding up the defensive end of the game for UCI was libero Arden Davis, who scored a team-high 21 digs. With 85 total team digs, UC Irvine limited UC Davis to a .174 shooting percentage while maintaining a .290 clip.
In the opening set neither team was able to establish a definitive lead, with the largest point deficit being no more than three points. A trio of kills by third-year Kaylin Squyres put the Aggies up 23-21, but a kill by Allison Lee and an attack error by Squyres quickly brought about the fourteenth tie of the game and prompted a time-out by UC Davis. An error would give the visitors set point at 24-23 but the Aggies were unable to capitalize.
Both teams would trade match points with one another until Marisa Bubica stepped up to put three away in a row after being down 25-26 to take the win.
Once again both teams were evenly matched in the second set, with the biggest lead coming at 9-6 for the UC Irvine off of a kill by Pickrell. However, the Anteaters soon found themselves behind 12-16 and were unable to regain their lead until the closing moments of the set. UC Davis would stretch the lead to 24-21 to give themselves triple match point after a kill by fourth-year Valeria Brain. The set looked to be over the following point after a shot sailed wide, but a late net violation gave the Anteaters a second life much to the dismay of the celebrating Aggies. A nimble behind the back tip by Arielle Manz evened the score at 24 all and two kills by Pickrell would complete the comeback for the Anteaters.
“I think it just proves that we are a team that works hard and that we (are) relentless no matter what the score is.” said Pickrell, “We’re not [going to] give up and I think that shows a lot of our character and shows how strong and united we are as a team.”
With the momentum on their side, UC Irvine jumped ahead to a 13-5 lead, UC Davis attempted to mount a comeback, scoring seven of the next 10 points; an emphatic kill by Lee would put an end to the Aggies run at 17-12. That was as close as the Anteaters would allow the Aggies to get and a kill by second-year Victoria Dennis closed out the set at 25-16 and completed the sweep.
“I just know that we’re capable of so much more and I’m really excited to show everyone that and it’s just been such good team wins, we’re not relying on any one person to get these wins.” said Manz. “Winning streaks come from coming together and doing it together and I plan on keeping this train rolling.”
UC Irvine 3, UC Riverside 0
Traveling to Riverside last Friday, UC Irvine swept the Highlanders 25-9, 27-25 and 25-17 to pick up their third conference win.
Fourth-year middle blocker Arielle Manz had a career night, converting seven of 10 attempts to score a .700 hitting percentage. The Highlanders had four blocks to the Anteater’s 10 and were held to a crippling .049 hitting percentage.
Tied four all in the set, UCI went on a 6-0 run to take the lead at 10-4. The Anteaters never looked back, cruising to a 25-9 victory.
With 15 tie scores and eight lead changes, the second set proved to be a much closer affair than the first, with neither team able to lead by more than three points. The Highlanders managed to go up 22-20 late in the set but the Anteaters quickly won two straight to tie the game. After trading points, Victoria Dennis came through with back-to-back kills to hold on for the win.
“That was probably the best volleyball that they played. It just put us on our heels a little bit. [The Highlanders] played really well,” said Coach Weishoff. “There was no change in the sense [of] ‘What did we do differently?’ It’s what they did differently.”
Once again both teams were tied 4-4 early in the set, but the Anteaters would score the next eight of 10 points to lead 12-6. Riverside scored the next point to come within five but that was as close as they would for the remainder of the game.
A block by Victoria Dennis set up match point for the Anteaters and an error by Riverside sealed the win for the Anteaters.