INDEPENDENCE, Ore. -
The eighth-ranked UC San Diego women's volleyball team withstood a furious rally from No. 24 Alaska Anchorage en route to a five-set victory over the Seawolves on the opening day of the Phoenix Inn GNAC Conference Challenge on Friday. Roxanne Brunsting
and Hillary Williamson
led the Tritons with 13 kills apiece and Katie Condon
added 12, as the Tritons pulled out a tight fifth set to win their season opener and earn first-year head coach Ricci Luyties
a victory in his debut. UCSD (1-0) prevailed 25-15, 25-23, 24-26, 22-25, 15-12 in a match contested at Central High School near the Western Oregon University campus.
"We certainly didn't want those second two sets to get away from us, but we came up with a few big plays in the fifth set and we pulled it out," Luyties said. "We had too many errors and gave them some easy points, so we've got to play cleaner going forward."
McKenzie Moss sent down a match-high 16 kills for UAA (2-1), while Jackie Matthisen tallied 15 kills and 16 digs.
UCSD looked good early on, stringing nine straight points together to take control of the first set. A kill by Kaitlin Potter made it 19-10 in favor of the Tritons and UCSD would cruise to the 25-15 win, clinching it on a Condon kill.
The Tritons looked to be pulling away late in set two as well, as consecutive kills from Williamson and Potter gave UCSD a 20-15 advantage, but the Seawolves climbed back to within 24-23 following consecutive Triton errors. Condon then came up big in the clutch again, sending home the deciding kill and UCSD went in front, 2-0.
Luyties' squad took a 14-9 lead in the third set, but UAA came roaring back again and tied it at 15-15 on back-to-back kills by Marie Borowikow and Matthisen. The Tritons earned match point at 24-23 on a kill by Condon, but another Matthisen kill tied it and the Seawolves took the set on two straight attack errors by UCSD.
The Tritons led 17-2 in set four, before UAA produced yet another rally. Tied at 20-20, the Seawolves got a kill from Moss and an ace from Siobhan Johansen to take a two-point advantage. Leading 24-21, UAA wrapped up the set when Borowikow blocked Condon at the net.
The fifth set proved to be tight throughout, seeing nine ties before UCSD finally took the lead for good at 12-11 when Brunsting and Potter combined to block Robyn Burton. After an error brought the Seawolves to within 13-12, consecutive kills by Brunsting and Janessa Werhane sealed the match for the Tritons.
The Seawolves held a 14-7 blocking advantage and outhit the Tritons .237 to .184, but UCSD racked up 13 aces to just two for UAA.
Brunsting, who was playing as an outside hitter for the first time in her career, added a match-high four aces and racked up 11 digs. The junior from Chula Vista was an AVCA All-American as a libero last season.
Werhane led UCSD with 12 digs, while Thalia McCann had 46 assists.
UCSD is back in action Friday night against Central Washington at 5:00 p.m.