3-0 Sweep Hands Pacific The Crystal Inn Thunderbird Invitational Tournament Title
Cedar City, Utah - Completing a 3-0 weekend at the Crystal Inn Thunderbird Invitational, the Pacific women's volleyball team picked up their its first tournament title of the 2011 season after finishing as the only undefeated team at Southern Utah University. The Tigers took home the title with a dominating 3-0 win over the host Thunderbirds on Saturday, August 27, to close out their tournament play.
Game scores for the match were 25-16, 25-19, 25-15.
Despite sluggish starts to the opening games of the match, the Tigers were too much for the host Thunderbirds as Pacific used big rallies in all three frames of the contest to pull away from and put away Southern Utah.
"We came out a little slow but our maturity came through," said head coach Greg Gibbons. "You can see the experience this season compared to a season ago even with out young players. We got behind early but kept chipping away and chipping away and were able to pull away in the end."
Trailing 10-7 in game one, Pacific put together an 11-2 run that would give the Tigers total control of the game and with it the match. During the run, the Tigers stifled the Thunderbird attack with control blocks and strong defensive efforts along the back line. At the net, senior Samantha Misa and sophomore Jennifer Sanders had a nearly flawless game for the Tigers as the duo recorded eight combined kills in 11 attacks with no errors.
Game two proved to be no different as the Thunderbirds jumped out to a 12-5 lead before the Tigers awoke to take back control of the match. Scoring seven straight points behind the serve of redshirt-sophomore Koala Matsuoka, the Tigers put themselves in position to take the game and a 2-0 lead in the match. Again, Misa led the way for the Tigers at the net with five more kills to her match total while freshman Hanna Levanen asserted herself on the match on both sides with four kills and five digs.
In game three, the Tigers put the Thunderbirds away and claimed the tournament title with another mid-game rally, turning a one point lead into a 10 point advantage at 23-13 with a 12-3 run. Continuing her onslaught, Misa hammered down a game-high seven kills in the frame while junior Gabby Cowden joined the fun with four kills in just seven attacks. Additionally, the Tigers backline defense continued to keep the Thunderbird attack at bay as Pacific posted 21 team digs in the final frame.
Overall, the Tiger defense was the biggest difference in the match for Pacific as the team held Southern Utah to just .040 hitting after posting four blocks and 45 team digs. Levanen excelled at both the net and on the floor for the Tigers as the freshman led the way with both four blocks and 13 digs. She added nine kills to the Tigers' offensive efforts, just missing out on her first career double-double.
Offensively, Misa picked up a match-high 16 kills for the Tigers as she was the lone attacker in the match to reach double-digit kills. Misa's 49 total kills over the weekend, as well as picking up a pair of double-doubles earned the senior from St. George, Utah tournament MVP honors. Joining her on the all-tournament team was both Levanen and junior Hannah Clancy. Clancy finished the match with 10 digs to go along with 32 assists as she picked up her second double-double of the weekend.
"I think this weekend is a good start to the season but we still have work to do," said Gibbons. "We will go back and look at the video and fine tune some things but this was a great way to start. We are on our way to meeting our preseason goals with our side-out percentages, point scoring and control blocks. As far as progressing and meeting our goals we are well on our way."
The Tigers will be back in action on Thursday, September 1 when they open play at home in the Alex G. Spanos Center against the No. 17 ranked Blue Devils of Duke. The two teams will square off at 5:00 pm as Pacific hosts Fan Frenzy Night in the arena.