UC Irvine Suffers Loss in Big West Opener
The UC Irvine women’s volleyball team dropped a 3-1 decision to defending Big West champion Hawaii in its conference opener at the Stan Sheriff Center. Set scores were 18-25, 25-22, 25-20, 25-21.
The Anteaters (12-2, 0-1 BWC) saw their six-match win streak snapped as they suffered only their second loss of the year, while UH (7-5, 1-0 BWC) won their fifth in a row.
Junior Haley DeSales led three ‘Eaters in double figures with a match-high 17 kills. She added 11 digs for her fifth double-double of the season. Juniors Idara Akpakpa andHarlee Kekauoha also finished with 11 kills each.
Once again, UCI’s defense took center stage as it totaled 67 digs. Senior Luna Tsujimoto anchored the effort, racking up a season-high 23. It was her 13th time reaching double digits and her second 20-dig performance in 14 matches.
Hawai’i scored the first point of the opening set, but UC Irvine responded with six unanswered. The ‘Eaters stretched their hot start into a 12-2 run that ended with a Kekauoha ace, to pull ahead, 12-3. The Rainbow Wahine made it interesting, coming within three at 21-18, but the Anteaters did not break as a kill from DeSales started a 4-0 spurt that gave them the 25-18 win.
It went back-and-forth in set two until the ‘Bows reeled off four-straight points to go on top, 18-13. UC Irvine sided out and eventually closed the gap to two (22-20) on a DeSales kill, but UH was able to hold on for the 25-22 victory.
In the third set, the ‘Eaters took an early 4-2 advantage on a kill from Kekauoha, but Hawai’i came back with a 6-1 spurt to go up, 8-5. The Rainbow Wahine stayed out front and pushed their lead to 22-16. UCI then cut the deficit in half with three-straight points, including back-to-back kills from DeSales. The ‘Bows refused to relinquish the lead, however, as they emerged with the 25-20 win.
It was another tightly contested affair in the fourth frame with four early ties. The Anteaters would break a 9-9 deadlock with a 7-2 run, but UH answered with a 5-0 rally of its own to knot it back up at 16-16. The two sides continued to trade points before the home team made the final push to prevail, 25-21.
Hawai’i finished the night with 62 digs and 11 team blocks. Middle hitter Emily Maglio led the way at the net with 13 kills and no errors on 28 swings (.464), to go along with seven blocks. Libero Savanah Kahakai had a match-high 24 digs.
UC Irvine will look to bounce back next week when it travels to UC Davis for a 7:00 p.m. Big West showdown on Friday, September 29.
In a week where the Anteaters won two of three matches, it was Giovanni Godoy scoring the game-winning goals in each of the victories. His four goals on the season tie him for the team lead, and he’s now put home seven career goals with four counting as game-winners.
Helping Godoy with each of the goals was Daniel Crisostomo who had three assists on the week boosting him to the top of the Big West with five on the season, and had an assist on each of Godoy’s game-winners. The defensive midfielder shined on both ends of the field during the week helping secure shutouts in each of the ‘Eaters’ victories helping UCI to three shutouts on the season now.
The awards are the second and third for the squad here in 2017 joining Luis Leon‘s offensive honor following the season’s opening week. It’s the first honor for both Godoy and Crisostomo in their careers, and the first week swept by the Anteaters since the season finale of the 2015 season.
UCI finished non-conference play with a 5-3-1 record overall as it now treks into Big West territory.