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HomeSportsUCI Women’s Volleyball Team Falls to UCR in Five Sets, 2-3

UCI Women’s Volleyball Team Falls to UCR in Five Sets, 2-3

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The UC Irvine’s Women’s Volleyball team (14-9, 7-6) fell to the UC Riverside Highlanders (6-17, 2-11), 2-3, at the SRC Arena in Riverside on Thursday, Nov. 4.  UCI hoped for a victory against UCR since their last face-off at home.

The Anteaters opened the first set with an attack error from sophomore middle blocker Onye Ofoegbu. Shortly after, UCI’s freshman outside hitter Marianna Bertolone scored a kill, tying 1-1. The two teams traded points until Irvine pulled a significant lead of 7-3 following a kill from their sophomore outside hitter Joy Umeh.

The Highlanders were not behind for long as they quickly tied the game up at 9-9, featuring points scored by UCR’s sophomore outside hitter Amarachi Osuji, freshman middle blocker Anya Green and freshman outside hitter Deja Bickers. Eventually, the teams tied at 11-11. 

Anteater freshman outside hitter Grace Colburn took UCI out of the stalemate and regained the lead 21-20 with a strong kill. Following that momentum, UCI finished the first set strongly with a 25-22 win.

Irvine couldn’t keep the same energy heading into the second set. UCR was quick to get on the scoreboard with kills from Bickers and Osuji. UCI only earned a point through a service error, bringing the score to 1-2.

The Highlanders took advantage of the ‘Eaters slow defense and scored three consecutive points. A kill from Umeh brought UCI out of their rut but was unable to stop UCR’s streak as they scored four more points, leading 2-9.

Despite the Anteaters’ valiant but late efforts to turn the set around, the Highlanders came out with a 25-21 victory, tying the game score 1-1. The Anteaters hit -0.036 (4-5-28).

However, things started to look up when three kills from Ofoegbu, a service error and a kill by sophomore outside hitter Carrissa MacDonald put UCI up 5-0, opening the third set. UCR scored several points, but UCI’s kills by junior outside hitter Carly Moreno and a service ace by sophomore setter Caitlin Kikta increased their lead to 10-2. Moreno scored a season-high of seven kills and Kikta recorded 22 set assists and 11 digs.

Ofoegbu squashed the Highlanders’ attempts to regain a lead as she dominated the set, scoring seven kills, with one to close out the set 25-14. UCI regained their game lead 2-1. Ofoegbu scored one less than her career-high of 20 kills and had a team-best of three block assists.

Beginning the fourth set, a service error from Kikta placed UCR on the board. A kill by Moreno evened out the score 1-1. Moreno ended the night with a career-high of seven kills.  

The two teams were neck-and-neck, trading points and trying to come out on top. Eventually, the Highlanders took the lead 6-5 and the Anteaters were unable to outrank them. The ‘Eaters displayed many errors and instances of hitting out. Meanwhile the Highlanders remained composed, demonstrating strong offense and defense.

Despite some ill-timed and long rallies, UC Riverside recuperated with a 25-21 victory, tying the game score at 2-2. The two teams then headed into UCI’s third consecutive five-set match.

The Anteaters were the first on the board following a bad set by Riverside’s junior setter Dejah Dade. The two teams then fell into a familiar pattern of attempting to one-up the other while remaining close in score.

An attack error by Ofoegbu placed UCR up 3-2, which continued until a kill from UCI’s freshman outside hitter Emma Spindt tied the score 7-7 and then again 12-12. Unfortunately, the Highlanders won on attack errors and a kill by Bickers, 15-12. 

The final game score was 2-3, with a great performance displayed by the Highlanders and an honest effort by the Anteaters. UCI’s freshman libero Carly Richter had a career-high of 25 digs, Spindt had a career-high of seven kills and sophomore outside hitter Bailey Darnell had a career-high of 11 digs.

The UCI Anteaters will continue on the road to play UC Davis at the University Credit Union Center on Saturday, Nov. 6.

Harleen Thandi is a Staff Writer. She can be reached at hthandi@uci.edu.