Team Effort Boosts ‘Eaters over Northeastern in Home Opener
With their biggest win in program history fresh on their minds, the UC Irvine women’s volleyball team (2-2) had little time to relish their historic feat as they were set for their home opener against Northeastern on Friday.
Although the ‘Eaters would go on to successfully defend home court against the Huskies 3-1, head coach Ashlie Hain was not completely satisfied with her team’s performance.
“A problem this week is that I thought that we practiced very complacent and I was after them for it”, said Hain, “Some people didn’t perform like they needed to because of it and I think that if we had played the level like we were playing last weekend then we would have swept Northeastern.”
A team effort by the ‘Eaters, with four players garnering double-digit kills, catapulted them to a four set victory over the Huskies (25-21, 25-17, 19-25, 25-13).
Sophomore opposite Harlee Kekauoha led the ‘Eaters with her season-high 15 kills. Both freshman opposite hitter Loryn Carter and sophomore middle blocker Idara Akpakpa had career nights against Northeastern, with 13 and 11 kills respectively.
Up front, junior Danielle Geiger played effectively with a career-high seven kills, hitting a .462 clip, and three blocks. Also with a career night was sophomore setter Ali Koumelis who notched 46 set-assists to be accompanied by 18 digs and three service aces.
The ‘Eaters started off the match strong as they went on an opening six point run. UCI were in control of the set at 19-10 until the Huskies went on a four point run of their own to narrow the gap 19-14. Northeastern would go on another spurt to cut the ‘Eater lead at 23-21 until a kill by senior outside hitter Victoria Dennis, and a service error would award the first set to UCI, 25-21. Dennis lead the ‘Eaters in the first set with 5 kills.
Similar to the opening set, the ‘Eaters would start off with seven unanswered points in the second. The ‘Eaters would take a commanding 24-13 lead at set point before the Huskies would go on a four point run. UCI earned the 25-17 set victory with a junior Brianna Montgomery kill to seal the set.
Northeastern would turn the tables on the ‘Eaters in the third set as they went on an opening 6-1 run. The ‘Eaters would manage to cut the deficit to three at 18-15 but they would ultimately fail to get the sweep and lose the third set 25-19.
Not much resistance was shown by the Huskies in the fourth as the ‘Eaters grooved to 12-5 start that soon became an 18-8 lead. Irvine would coast to a 25-13 match win as Northeastern would hit an abysmal -.027 clip in the final set.
Although she was unsatisfied with the team’s inability to finish in three sets, coach Hain looked at the positive in getting the team’s first home game under their belt.
“We had some lapses in our offense and were mentally tricked out for a bit,” said Hain, “We’re always striving for more and that is the culture of our team but it is nice to get a win at home […] and show the crowd that we can play a high level of volleyball and that is the important part.”
After facing Washington State at the Walter Pyramid in the morning, the ‘Eaters will come back to the Bren Events Center for a 7:00 p.m. matchup against the Cal Bears.