Spectators gathered at the SRC Arena on Wednesday, Nov. 20, as the UC Riverside (6-22, 2-14) volleyball team hosted their crosstown rival, Cal Baptist University (CBU), in a back-and-forth battle. The match had higher stakes as the two teams battled to see who is the best team in Riverside. Fans from both sides were in attendance at the SRC Arena cheering for their respective team to earn the victory.
In their highest scoring match of the season, the Highlanders rallied from a two set deficit to force a decisive fifth set. The emotion of a match of this caliber was reflected by the final score of all five sets, as each was won by just two points. However, the Highlanders fell just short of a victory as they lost the final set, 21-19.
Although UCR matched CBU (14-16, 7-9) point-for-point in the first two sets, the Lancers’ defensive discipline on the net proved lethal as a pair of match-ending kills solidified their momentary lead.
After dropping the opening sets, Riverside emerged reinvigorated as they displayed an attack-oriented strategy that overwhelmed the Lancers in sets number three and four, 26-24 and 29-27 respectively. Freshman outside hitter Amarachi Osuji continued her impressive play on the net. Osuji led the offense with a season-high 25 kills, while also providing 12 digs and three blocks on defense. Freshman middle blocker Isabella Scarlett had 11 kills, junior middle blocker Kat Lowry contributed 13 kills and junior Ayla Fresenius added 19 kills as she contributed on the net for a collective .224 hitting percentage.
In the final set of the match, the Highlanders were unable to answer the Lancers’ aggressiveness on the net as they took a brief 8-3 lead. However, in a similar fashion to their previous sets, UCR once again showcased their determination and mounted a comeback, even taking a 16-15 lead. The back-and-forth effort from both sides continued until CBU’s junior middle blocker Sydney Marks capped off the night with a pair of back-to-back kills, handing UCR a disheartening loss 21-19.
Sophomore setter Dejah Jade and junior setter Morgan Kline worked under the net to collectively create a season-best 74 assists. Individually, Jade had four blocks while Kline had nine digs.
On Saturday, Nov. 23, the Highlanders battled against UC Davis (17-12, 9-7) where they lost their 22nd match of the season. Fresenius had 10 kills while Osuji added 7 and freshman middle blocker Isabella Scarlett had six kills.
With their latest defeat, the Highlanders finish the season in 9th and tied for last place overall in the Big West Conference. UCR ended the season with a 6-22 record, their worst record since 2014 when they finished with only two wins. The University of Hawaii was the top school, as they achieved a 24-3 record overall and 14-2 record within the Big West Conference.