After taking a week off from play, the UCI women’s volleyball team will conclude their 2015 season with a trio of home matches at the Bren Events Center.
The Anteaters (12-13, 6-7 Big West) return to action this Tuesday, Nov. 17 against Hawai’i, and then host UC Davis on Saturday, Nov. 21. Following this pair of matches, both of which will be aired on ESPN3, UCI rounds out its season with a Tuesday night (Nov. 24) matchup against UC Santa Barbara on senior night.
UCI currently sits fourth in the Big West rankings, just behind UC Davis. All season long the Anteaters have been led by freshman opposite Harlee Kekauoha, who sits sixth in the conference with 3.34 kills per set, and is fourth in service aces with a .32 average.
The defensive duo of sophomores Luna Tsujimoto and Chloe Hakim has been crucial to the Anteaters’ success, as the two helped lead the Anteaters to consecutive matches with over 70 digs in the week prior.
Ranked seventh in the nation, the Rainbow Wahine (22-1, 13-0 Big West) are currently riding an 18 match win-streak and are the lone team to remain undefeated in the Big West. With their 3-1 victory against UC Davis on Sunday, UH has clinched itself a share of the conference title
With an average of 3.4 blocks per set, Hawai’i is the No. 1 blocking team in the nation, and leads the Big West Conference in hitting percentage (.291), kills (14.04) and service aces (.154) as well.
UH’s efforts at the net are spearheaded by senior middle blocker Olivia Magill, whose average of 1.59 blocks per set ranks among the nation’s eighth-best.
In their first encounter earlier this season, the Anteaters looked primed to upset the then No. 8 Rainbow Wahine, but fell just short in four sets at the Stan Sheriff Center. In the second and fourth sets, the Anteaters were edged out by scores of 23-25 and 24-26 respectively.
Defensively, the Anteaters were able to stand toe to toe with the best blocking team in the nation, posting 17 blocks to the Rainbow Wahine’s 18. Despite being out-blocked, UCI posted a higher hitting percentage in their match, recording .147 to Hawai’i’s .136.
In terms of serving, Hawai’i proved to be the superior team, recording twice as many serves as UCI (6-3). Additionally, both teams were plagued by service errors, with the Anteaters posting 14 and the Rainbow Wahine at 14.
While UCI kept close with Hawai’i the first time, it should be noted that the Rainbow Wahine did begin the match without three of their starters, sophomore outside hitter Kalei Greeley, junior setter Tayler Higgins, and junior opposite Nikki Taylor.
Taylor, who was named Big West Offensive Player of the Week, leads the team with 4.27 kills per set, and is second on the team with 171 digs and third in blocks. Additionally, Taylor is the conference leader in aces with .43 per set, while Higgins is second with an average of 0.34.
UH can claim the Big West title outright with a victory over UCI Tuesday night.
Against, the Aggies, the Anteaters suffered a 3-1 loss at the Pavilion when the two first played at The Pavilion on Oct. 30. Both teams recorded a .157 hitting for the evening, but defensively the Anteaters out-blocked the Aggies 16.5 to 6.
Currently, the Aggies (13-14, 8-5) sit at fourth place in the Big West conference, and have won four of their last six matches, with the two losses coming against conference leaders Long Beach State and the University of Hawai’i.
The Aggies are led by senior outside hitter Kaylin Squyres, who sits atop the Big West Conference in total kills at 457 and kills per set with a 4.35 average.
Freshman middle blocker Kelechi Ohiri leads the Aggies with a .335 hitting percentage, third-highest in the Big West, and ranks fifth in the league with 1.05 blocks per set. Freshman libero Malia Bolko, who recently won Big West Defensive Player of the Week honors, anchors the team defensively with an average of 4.73 digs per set to rank her second best in the league.
UC Santa Barbara
At the Thunderdome, the Anteaters defeated the Gauchos in four sets with 72 digs on the night. UCI outhit UCSB .281 to 1.61, but were out-blocked 3-12 and out-aced (6-8).
After suffering a sweep to UC Riverside on Saturday night, the Gauchos, (7-18, 3-11 Big West) currently sit near the bottom of the Big West rankings in eight-place.
Junior middle blocker Phoebe Grunt leads the Gauchos with a .347 hitting percentage, placing her fourth in the Big West Conference. Freshman libero Emilia Petrachi is second in the conference with 4.54 digs per set, and was once again named Big West Defensive Player of the Week, following both Player and Defensive Player of the Week honors last week.
Serving wise, the Gauchos are second in the conference with 1.43 aces per set. Freshman setter Annie Hasselmann leads the team with 24 aces in the season thus far.