Historic Third Set Sends Pacific To A Sweep Of Loyola-Chicago

Pacific Volleyball - Photo by: Gary Jones
Pacific Volleyball - Photo by: Gary Jones
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Stanford, Calif. – Beginning play at the Stanford Invitational, the Pacific women's volleyball team made history en route to a 3-0 sweep of Loyola Chicago on Friday, September 7. For the Tigers, history was made in set three as Pacific posted an all-time single-set mark for margin of victory as they buried the Ramblers by 19 points (25-6) to seal the win. Pacific moved to 7-0 on the year while the Ramblers fell to 5-3.

For the Tigers, their 19-point margin of victory broke the previous 25-point record of 25-8, set in 2010, and tied the all-time mark of 30-11 which was posted twice previously.

Set scores for the match were: 25-17, 26-24, 25-6.

Opening the match in set one, the Tigers ran away with an easy victory to jump ahead of the Ramblers one set to none as Pacific had its offense firing on all cylinders. After dropping the first point of the set, the Tigers never trailed again, opening a quick 8-4 lead to force an early timeout by Loyola-Chicago and establish a lead they would not relinquish. From there Pacific steadily pulled away led by their juniors as Megan Birch, who finished the set with five kills, started the Tigers off strong while Jennifer Sanders, who finished the set with six kills, finished the Ramblers off late.

In a complete reversal of set one, the Tigers' offense dried up in set two as Pacific was hitting negative midway through the frame.  That drop in production allowed the Ramblers to flip a two point Tiger lead at 12-10 into a six point Rambler advantage at 19-13. Three kills by Birch and a rotation error got the Tigers back into the set as Pacific climbed back within two at 19-17 forcing a timeout. Out of the timeout, the Tigers continued their move back into the set as back-to-back hitting errors by Loyola-Chicago tied the set at 19-19 before Pacific's six point run finally came to an end. Despite, having all the momentum, the Ramblers put the Tigers on the brink of a set loss at 24-23, only to give away their chance with a service error. They would see their hopes for the set upset come to an end two points later on a kill by sophomore Katy Tagart and an ace by sophomore Gillian Howard.

Out of the break, the Tigers put their second set struggles behind them and buried the Ramblers early, winning the first four points on the serve of senior Gabby Cowden, and nine of the first 10. The quick start would lead the Tigers to history as Pacific never let off the gas on their way to a single-set record for margin of victory. In the set, the Tigers hit a season-best .560, pounding down 15 kills on 25 attempts with just one error. Ending the match for the Tigers was freshman Kimmy Whitson, who picked up her first career kill, as she came into the match in relief of senior Hannah Clancy late in the set.

Overall, Birch led the way for the Tigers as the junior outside posted a match-best 15 kills on 28 swings while hitting a season-best .429. Her classmate, Sanders, finished her night with 12 kills on .474 hitting while adding three blocks for the Tigers. Clancy led the Tigers both offensively with 35 assists and defensively with 11 digs to pick up her fifth double-double of the year and 37th of her career. Despite having an off night offensively, Howard was nails at the net as the sophomore tied a career best with six blocks as Pacific outblocked the Ramblers 9.0-to-8.5.

No Rambler attacker reached double-digits in kills as Anna Eytchison came the closest with nine kills on 21 attacks. The Tigers held Loyola-Chicago to .085 hitting as Pacific has yet to allow an opponent to reach .200 hitting on the year and has held three of seven opponents to sub-.100 hitting.

Pacific will put its perfect record on the line against future WCC foe Santa Clara on Saturday, September 8, as the two teams meet on day two of the Stanford Invitational. The match is scheduled for 12:00 pm.