Pacific's Rally Falls Short As The Tigers Fall In Five At Cal State Fullerton

#62 Kat Schulz - Photo by: Gary Jones
#62 Kat Schulz - Photo by: Gary Jones

Fullerton, Calif. - For the second time in as many nights, the Pacific women's volleyball team fell behind 2-0 on the road before recovering to force a fifth set. However, the Tigers luck would run dry as Pacific fell 3-2 to Cal State Fullerton on Saturday, October 27. The five-set match was Pacific's fifth-straight five-setter as the Tigers fell to 17-7 overall and 5-6 in conference with the loss while the Titans improved to 12-12 overall and 6-5 in the Big West.

Set scores for the match were: 25-19, 28-26, 16-25, 23-25, 15-9.

In a battle against the Titans for the second time in as many matches, the Tigers could not find the winning combination the second time around as Cal State Fullerton avoided the season sweep by Pacific. As they did the night before, the Tigers dug themselves into a 2-0 hole that would take all of their efforts to climb out of.

In the first two games, the Titans controlled the court against Pacific as the Tigers' attack was held in check through the serve of Cal State Fullerton. Opening the match, the Titans took immediate control from behind the service line as three aces and a bevy of tough serves kept the Tigers out of system and forcing Pacific into just .108 hitting.

A set later, the two teams locked horns in a back-and-forth affair that saw Pacific continually battle back only to be rebuked for much of the frame. For the Tigers, the set finally looked to be going their way as the Tigers took a late lead and held set point in their hands at 24-23 only to see the Titans fend off Pacific's attack. Three times the Tigers served for the set with each of their chances coming up empty. With the Titans keeping Pacific out of the win column, Cal State Fullerton was able to turn the set into its favor by taking the final three points of the frame to grab a 2-0 lead. In all, the set saw six lead changes and 15 draws before a final victor was determined.

Finding their backs against the wall for the second straight night the Tigers once again came out swinging from the intermission. Led by their freshman Kat Schulz, the Tiger attack came alive as Pacific picked up 16 kills, six of which found their way off the arm of Schulz. Additionally, the Tigers' defense found its rhythm as Pacific picked up 31 digs and four blocks while holding the Titans to .000 hitting.

Back in the match, Pacific used a late rally in set four to even the match at two sets a piece as Pacific turned a three-point, 21-18, hole into a 22-21 lead behind the serve of senior Koala Matsuoka. During the run, sophomore Gillian Howard took control of the middle for the Tigers as the young middle blocker picked up a pair of kills to give Pacific the lead.

With the comeback in sight, the Tigers found their luck dry up in the fifth and final set as a bevy of unforced errors and a relentless Titan attack halted Pacific's rally. For the Tigers, the match got away from them when Cal State Fullerton ran off five-straight points midway through the set to turn a 6-5 Tiger lead into a commanding 10-6 Titan advantage.

Overall, the Tigers statistically held the advantage over the Titans in nearly every category as Pacific led in hitting (.175-to-.169), digs (89-to-82), kills (64-to-57) and found itself tied in blocks (10.0-to-10.0). Despite the leads, the big difference came behind the service line where the Titans posted nine aces to Pacific's five and kept the Tigers offense out of system for most of the night.

Schulz led the way for the Tigers with a career-high 18 kills on .385 hitting while also posting 18 digs for her 14th double-double of the year. Junior Megan Birch added 13 kills on 41 attacks while Howard just missed double-figures as she posted nine kills on .364 hitting. Howard added six blocks for the Tigers as she tied senior setter Hannah Clancy for the team lead. Clancy grabbed her second-straight double-double and 14th of the season as Pacific's starter tallied 50 assists ad 21 digs to go along with her six blocks and four kills. 

For the Titans, Kayla Neto again led the attack as she posted 22 kills while also grabbing 18 digs and three blocks. Right behind Neto was Bre Moreland as the junior posted 13 kills, 18 digs, three aces and two blocks.

Pacific will look to get back on track on Friday, November 2, when the Tigers return home to take on Long Beach State at the Alex G. Spanos Center. The two teams will face off at 7:00 pm.