by Amanda Zarasua
Despite freshman Onye Ofoegbu’s (13) career high with 17 kills and the team’s strong start in the first set, the UC Irvine women’s volleyball team ultimately took a loss against the Cal State Fullerton Titans with a final 3-1 score (19-25, 25-17, 25-18, 30-28) this past Saturday, Oct. 12 at the Bren Events Center.
Fresh off their win against Hawaii, the Anteaters could not keep Fullerton at bay and dropped to 4-13 overall and 1-4 in Big West conference play.
Right out of the gate, UCI and Fullerton were neck to neck in the first set until kills by Anteater sophomore Abby Marjama (8) and a block from Ofoegbu pushed Irvine to a 10-7 lead. Followed by a Fullerton timeout and multiple errors, the Anteaters claimed the first set 25-19.
Fullerton then took a 12-7 lead in the second set. After Irvine’s timeout, the deficit was brought to a close 14-13 in part by a Marjama kill and an attack error on Fullerton. However, the Titans fought their way back to win the second set 25-17.
Irvine took an early 4-0 lead in the third set thanks to a kill by junior Cassie Stewart (10), but could not keep the consistency going late into the match as Fullerton went on a nine-point rally to extend their lead to 16-8. The Titans ultimately won the third set 25-18.
It all came down to a decisive fourth set, a dominant performance and three near consecutive kills by Ofoegbu that kept the Anteaters hanging tough with the Titans. The match now tied 12-12.
The set continued to be close as Irvine took the lead 22-20 following a Fullerton attack error and a Marjama kill. Irvine’s first set point came as they were up 24-22, but an Irvine service error and a kill by Titan freshman Danielle Jeffries (4) brought the score back up 24-24. The Anteaters tried to pull themselves together in a timeout, but Fullerton quickly gained a set point after Titan freshman Julia Crawford (5) aced Irvine, who was now down 25-24. This tradeoff went on for quite some time, but even after four set points Irvine was defeated 30-28.
“I think we just need to build off of where we’re playing now and just improve as a team,” Ofoegbu said when asked what the main takeaway from this match was moving forward.
The Anteaters will try to bounce back this weekend, having two away games against Cal State Northridge and Cal State Long Beach on Friday, Oct. 18 and Saturday, Oct. 19.