November 13, 2015
Mustangs 3 – Highlanders 0
UC Riverside volleyball continued to struggle in the Big West conference with a one-sided loss to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo this past Friday.
After losing to Poly on the road earlier in the year, the Highlanders entered Friday’s match looking to take advantage of the momentum they held coming off two straight wins at home and tying a program record for conference victories on a season. It was a tall order for the Highlanders as, coming in, Cal Poly sat in the top three of the conference with a record of 9-3 while UCR sat at 4-8. With a sweeping defeat of three sets to none, Cal Poly took the victory while UC Riverside was left with another dent in their Big West Conference record.
The first set of the match opened with an intense trading of blows, with the teams going back and forth until Cal Poly started to pull ahead with a seven point lead at 15-8. This didn’t discourage the Highlanders as they started to make a comeback with much fervor, closing the gap to 20-15, still being led by Cal Poly, however.
Despite the Highlanders attempt to close the gap, the set was closed off with the Mustangs taking the set’s final five points en route to a 25-15 win, led by server Adlee Van Winden.
This trend seemed to continue into the second set, with the Highlanders accruing an early lead at 9-8 causing some early celebration and seemingly setting a precedent for the rest of the set. The Mustangs stayed resilient, however, bouncing back with a lead of 14-9 and stunning array of back-to-back points to secure six points in a row. It was an intense set with both teams on the offensive, going back and forth, as the Highlanders got within three but ultimately Cal Poly closed off the second set with a five point lead to win it 25-20.
The final set of the match was no different, as Cal Poly continued their offensive dominance with a safe six point margin, leading the match to 16-10. UC Riverside desperately tried to close the gap at this point with players like Helena Peric (23) and Alexis Urbach (22) adding to their combined total of 45 attempts, but the efforts were to no avail. The match ended with the Highlanders falling in the third, 25-16.
November 14, 2015
Highlanders 3 – Gauchos 0
The Highlanders bounced back from their previous loss the night before to return Saturday and make history with a landslide victory over UC Santa Barbara at 3-0, securing a tie for sixth place in the Big West Conference with CSUN at 5-9. This broke the program’s previous record of most conference wins ever since the Highlanders have moved to Division I 15 years ago.
UC Riverside started off the first set with a strong offensive securing four points in a row to open the game within minutes at 4-0. The Highlanders continued to dominate as Helena Peric secured nine kills as UCR dominated with a seven point lead to put the set at 19-12. UCSB looked to reform their strategy during this crucial moment in the set, calling a rare two timeouts, yet UC Riverside pulled even further ahead to a 10 point lead. The set was closed off by a Cristina Maietta kill, ending the set at 25-15, Highlanders.
UCSB decided to switch from their defensive strategy during the second set, as both teams traded blows on the way to 17-17 tie. With a greater intensity during this set, the two teams vigorously tried to pull ahead of one another with UCR only maintaining a two point lead for the rest of the set, winning at 25-23. The second set brought out the best of the Highlanders as Peric, Alex Gresham and Fabiana Rosas took four kills each during the set.
Santa Barbara now looked to overcome their precarious position, yet the final set of the match was no different from the previous two as UCR took ahold of this one-sided affair, securing the victory with a 25-21 win. Peric also continued to stand out in the third with a multitude of kills adding to her astounding 18 kills on the evening.
With a devastating loss and an astounding victory this week, The Highlanders now sit at 5-9 in the conference with an overall record of 10-17 and look to improve upon this record with their matches in the coming games. Their upcoming matchups this week will be against CSU Northridge on November 20 followed by a match against Long Beach State on the 21st.