October 19, 2012
Mustangs 3- Highlanders 2

The UC Riverside women’s volleyball team entered Friday’s match against Cal Poly looking for their elusive first conference win of the season. In a showdown that featured 34 tied scores and 21 lead changes, the Highlanders (5-16, 0-8) fell to the Mustangs (2-18, 1-7) in five heartbreaking sets (21-25, 25-22, 25-22, 24-26, 15-17) despite holding two match points.

Highlander Amanda Vialpando led all players with 22 kills and 14 digs. Ashley Cox added 11 kills and 20 digs while Tyler Dorsey chipped in 9 kills. The Mustangs were led by Megan McConnell, who registered 13 kills.

After dropping the first set (21-25), the Highlanders recovered from a 10-14 deficit to take a 21-17 lead behind a service ace. A slew of errors opened an opportunity for the home team as they closed to within one point at 22-23 before a Vialpando kill and Mustang error sealed the set for the Highlanders, 25-22.

The third set saw UC Riverside continue their impressive form as they contained the Mustang’s relentless attacking pressure and weathered nine tied scores to pull out the set, 25-22.

The visiting team started the crucial fourth set strong, charging to a 12-6 advantage as they looked to secure their first road win of the season. The home team, however, gained momentum as the Highlanders watched the Mustangs surge to take the lead 17-16. A timeout by Highlander coach Ron Larsen calmed the team as UC Riverside tied the score and opened a three point lead at 21-18.  Two consecutive kills by Vialpando gave the Highlanders a match point at 24-23, which was quickly erased by a Mustang block. A pair of Cal Poly kills shut the door on a possible fourth set UCR comeback as the Mustangs won the set, 26-24.

The Highlanders trailed early in the deciding set as Pomona tallied eight kills to lead 11-8. The visiting team responded by stringing together four uncontested points pulling ahead 12-11. The two teams traded leads before the Highlanders failed to convert a second match point at 15-14.  Cal Poly then went on to win the set and the match, 17-15, behind two kills and a Highlander error.

October 20, 2012
Gauchos 3 – Highlanders 1

Coming off a tough five set loss to Cal Poly, the UC Riverside women’s volleyball team squared off against UC Santa Barbara on Saturday Oct. 20 with hopes of stealing a rare win on the road. The Highlanders (5-17, 0-9) came up short again as they lost a tightly contested match (25-14, 25-23, 23-25, 25-23) to fall 0-9 against conference opponents this season.

Errors proved to be fatal for the Highlanders as they committed over double the amount of their opponent (28-12). Amanda Vialpando continued her strong weekend play registering 20 kills and 20 digs to lead UCR. Ashley Cox contributed 16 kills and 25 digs while Emily Borges added 16 digs.

The Gauchos (12-12, 5-4), who own a 36-5 record all time against UC Riverside, opened the first set generating multiple kills as the Highlanders struggled to withstand a 10-1 Santa Barbara run before losing the set, 14-25.

The Highlanders took control early in the second set winning three straight points to open a 3-0 advantage that ballooned to 12-8 behind a Tyler Dorsey kill. Knotted at 17-17, the two teams swamped leads as neither gained separation before consecutive errors from Riverside at 23-23 gifted Santa Barbara the set, 25-23.

The third set saw UC Riverside trail early as the Gauchos galloped to a 7-2 lead. Backed by power hitting, the Highlanders rallied to tie the score at 14-14. Following six tied scores, UCR produced a service ace to lead 24-22. A Vialpando kill sealed the set, 25-23.

The fourth set featured eleven tied scores and seven lead changes as the Highlanders battled to stay in the match trailing 11-18. Strong serving and a balanced offensive attack proved vital to the Highlanders as they recovered to tie the score, 20-20. Santa Barbara then gained momentum before a kill by Cox instilled a glimmer of hope as UCR tied the score, 22-22.  Energized by the cheers of the home crowd, UC Santa Barbara subdued the Highlander’s audacious play to secure the win on a costly UCR service error, 25-23.

The Highlanders return home to face Pacific University on Oct. 26 at 7:00 p.m. at the SRC Arena in Riverside.