Stockton, Calif. – Opening play at the 34th Annual Community Bankers Classic, the Pacific women's volleyball team remained perfect on the season as the Tigers swept Portland State on Friday, August 31. The win for the Tigers moved their record to 4-0 while the Vikings fell to 1-3.
Set scores for the match were: 25-21, 27-25, 25-20.
With their first action on their home court of the season, the Tigers got off to a sluggish start as Portland State jumped out to a four point lead just 14 points into the contest. Despite the start, the Tigers would not let the Vikings pull away as Pacific stayed close, waiting for its chance to strike. That time would come midway through the opening set as the Tigers turned a 16-16 tie into a 23-18 advantage behind the play of their junior Megan Birch. As Pacific mounted its 7-2 run, Birch posted four of the Tigers' points with kills on the outside to put the set into the Tigers' pocket.
Despite having the momentum from a late charge in set one, the Tigers found themselves in a close fight in the second set as Portland State attempted to battle back into the match. As the teams traded points late in the set, both sides were forced to fight off set points as the Tigers picked up a kill from sophomore Gillian Howard to stave off the set loss before a service error cost Pacific its first chance at the 2-0 lead. With the mistake behind them, the Tigers would take the set on their second attempt when junior Jennifer Sanders rejected a dump attempt after a bad pass by the Viking backline.
In set three, the Tigers raced out to a six point lead, doubling up the Vikings at 12-6 as the Pacific attack was nearly flawless behind freshmen Kat Schulz and her trio of kills. However, the blistering start would cool as Portland State rallied to pull within just one point at 18-17. After trading points, the Tigers would open up some breathing room with three-straight points as sophomore Gillian Howard clogged the middle with a kill and a block, both of which were assisted by senior setter Hannah Clancy.
Overall, the Tigers were led by Birch, the reigning Bankers Classic MVP, who posted 11 kills on 31 swings while adding three blocks and two digs. Sanders finished right behind her classmate with 10 kills on .333 hitting while Howard added eight kills on .571 hitting and a match-best five blocks. For Clancy, her night ended with her fourth-straight double-double as the senior posted 39 assists and 12 digs. Defensively, Schulz posted 14 digs, two off her season best, while senior Koala Matsuoka added a team-best 16. Freshman Maddy Call finished with another double-digit effort online the backline as she tallied 11 digs in place of Birch in the backrow.
For the Vikings, Jaklyn Wheeler led the way with 13 kills while Megan Ellis posted 12. In addition to her 12 kills, Ellis tallied a match-best 19 digs to grab a double-double on the night.
The Tigers will be back on the floor at 12:00 pm on Saturday, September 1, as they take on Nevada in their second match of the tournament. Prior to the match, Portland State and Northern Illinois will face off at 10:00 am to kick off the second day of the Bankers Classic.