Exciting 3-2 Victory Propels UC Irvine In To Third Round Of The NIVC
UC Irvine advanced to the third round of the National Invitational Volleyball Championship with an exciting 3-2 victory over Pacific (25-21, 25-13, 19-25, 13-25, 15-13) at the Spanos Center Wednesday. The Anteaters win their second consecutive post-season match after only having one post-season victory in program history (2003 NCAA).
UCI will have to wait until the Texas State quad is completed on Friday to find out the next opponent. UCI is now 24-7 overall, tying the school record for wins, previously set in 2003 (24-10).
The Anteaters posted a season-high 11 blocks, behind an impressive performance by middle blocker Makayla Wolfe. The sophomore had four solo blocks, which ranks tied for sixth in the UCI match record book with three of those solo rejections coming in the fifth set. On the night, the reigning Big West Player of the Week posted a season-high nine total blocks to go with eight kills.
The Anteater offense was led by pin hitters Haley DeSales and Harlee Kekauoha. DeSales topped the squad with her 10th double-double of the season, recording 17 kills and a season-high 18 digs plus two service aces. Kekauoha followed with 16 kills and three aces.
Setter Ali Koumelis recorded 45 set assists and 16 digs, just one shy of her season high, while libero Luna Tsujimoto had a match-high 20 digs.
Pacific (17-14) was led by Emily Baptista's 19 kills, Janie Fisher's seven blocks and Katrin Gotterba's 19 digs.
UCI led 13-10 in the first set before Pacific went on a 5-0 run, which included three consecutive aces, to move in front 15-13. UCI would trail 20-19 then used four Harlee Kekauoha kills, an ace by Haley DeSales and a block by Kekauoha and Makayla Wolfe to end the set, 25-21.
UCI would use the momentum from the first set and jump out to an early 5-1 lead in the second set. UCI would extend the advantage to 8-3 on back-to-back kills by DeSales. The Anteaters would put the set out of reach on a 7-1 run to expand the margin to 21-10 and finish on an Idara Akpakpa kill, 25-13.
Pacific took control early in the third set with a 9-2 lead. UCI chipped away and got within 13-10, but the Tigers would answer with the next three to move the back to a 16-10 advantage. UCI would edge within 21-18, but Pacific would score four of the next five to win the set 25-19.
Four consecutive Anteater attack errors, three by way of blocks, helped Pacific to a 7-4 lead in the fourth set. The Tigers would cruise to a 25-13 victory to force a deciding set.
In the fifth set, UCI created some separation on a solo block by Makayla Wolfe and a DeSales kill to go up 5-2. Back-to-back kills by Ali Koumelis and DeSales extended the lead to 7-4. Pacific would score three in a row to creep within 11-10, but a Kekauoha kill stopped the momentum, 12-10. After a Pacific kill, Wolfe had another solo stuff to give UCI the 13-11 cushion, but the Tigers battled back to tie the set 13-13. Another Wolfe block and a Pacific attack that flew wide sealed the win 15-13.