Women’s Volleyball Drops Two Conference Games

In the decisive fifth set, the UCI women’s volleyball team were unable to keep pace against UC Davis, posting an abysmal .038 hitting percentage in the final frame of the match to drop to 12-15 (6-9 Big West) on the season last Saturday night at the Bren Events Center.

Throughout the night, the ‘Eaters came roaring back after each set they dropped. After conceding the first set 23-25, UCI bounced back by taking the second set 25-16; the third set went to the Aggies at 25-18, to which the ‘Eaters answered by taking the fourth 25-15.

In the fifth set, the Anteaters soon found themselves in a 5-9 hole. UCI showed signs of life with a three-point run, but a miscommunication error between freshman opposite Harlee Kekauoha and junior setter Shelley Anderson halted the Anteater’s momentum. UCI managed to score only one more point before succumbing to the Aggies 15-9.

“That was where the momentum changed,” said senior outside hitter Marisa Bubica, who logged a double-double with 11 kills and 15 digs. “It’s all just communication and something we have always needed to work on as a team.”

Sets two to four were each decided by a relatively large margin of victory, which according to first year head coach Ashlie Hain was more indicative of each team’s respective game plans rather than mental strengths.

“I think it was strategic on both sides, and then when you’re being strategic, you just count on the person that’s supposed to execute, execute, so they did that at times, and we did that at times, and I think we both had good game plans,” said Hain. “Unfortunately, in game five, we saw the unforced errors. I felt like we were both in our strongest rotations, but our side didn’t execute, we got nervous and I think we panicked a little bit.”

UCI trailed early in the first, but soon took a 10-5 off of three consecutive kills by senior middle blocker Ella Rosenfeld. However, the Aggies soon closed the deficit at 14-14, and both teams would continue to trade points. At 22 all, UCD overtook UCI with a pair of blocks to hold double match point, 24-22. Kekauoha converted off a set from Anderson to shave off one match point, but a put away by freshman outside hitter Emily Allen closed the frame.  

In a repeat of the first set, the Anteaters stormed out to a 10-5 lead, this time off a run of four consecutive kills. This time around however, the Anteaters did not relinquish their lead, and back-to-back kills by Rosenfeld would give UCI a seven-point buffer at 18-11. Junior middle blocker Victoria Dennis scored the Anteater’s final five points in a run that included three kills and two block assists in tandem with Kekauoha to take the set 25-16.

Both teams stayed even with one another in the third until the Aggies broke the set open with a three point run to a 14-11 lead. The ‘Eaters struggled to keep pace with UC Davis, and soon found themselves trailing 13-21. While UCI attempted to mount a comeback, it proved too little too late when junior outside hitter Kendall Walbrecht put away the ball to end the game 25-18.  

UC Davis opened the set with a 5-2 lead, but the Anteaters responded with 7-0 run to regain the lead (9-5) in the fourth set. Building upon their momentum, the ‘Eaters quickly surged ahead to another seven-point lead at 17-10 off an Aggie ball handling error.  A double-block by Anderson and Rosenfeld gave UCI the 25-15 victory in the fourth to force a fifth set, in which the Anteaters ultimately came up short.

The Anteaters will host the UCSB Gauchos in their season finale at the Bren Events Center Tuesday night.