UC Irvine women’s volleyball (24-7) has made the most out of their first major postseason run since 2003, advancing to the third round of the National Invitational Volleyball Championships (NIVC) where they are set to face Texas Tech at the TCU Recreational Center in Fortsworth Wednesday at 2 p.m.
The ‘Eaters dominated in their first round matchup against Sacramento State (26-10) last Tuesday, completing a clean sweep (25-16, 25-19, 25-10) at the University of Pacific’s Alex G. Spanos Center in Stockton, Calif.
Junior Harlee Kekauoha led with 14 kills, but did plenty of work defensively with eight digs and two blocks. Sophomore Makayla Wolfe added 10 kills and three rejections.
Collectively, the ‘Eaters held Sacramento State to .062 hitting while outdigging their opposition 52-35 and making great use of their serving, propelling eight aces across the net.
UCI returned to Stockton the next day and came out on top in an exhilarating 3-2 (25-21, 25-13, 19-25, 13-25, 15-13) finish over host Pacific.
Wolfe, who earned Big West Player of the Week honors with her impressive defense on the net, emerged with a huge night as she registered nine total blocks — four solo rejections — the last of which got the ‘Eaters to match point. Courtesy of Wolfe, UCI ended the night with a season-high 11 blocks.
Junior Haley DeSales was all over the floor, logging her tenth double-double of the year with 17 kills and 18 digs.
The ‘Eaters took the first two sets, but the Tigers came right back to lock the match up to force a fifth, in which Wolfe and DeSales led the UCI with a string of strikes and blocks to keep their season alive.
UCI has now tied the program record in wins with 24, previously set in 2003 when current head coach Ashlie Hain was a starting setter for the squad and had helped the ‘Eaters’ earn their sole postseason victory prior to this season.
The winner of the game Wednesday will either matchup against TCU or Green Bay in the semifinals the following day at 5 p.m.