HAYWARD, Calif. - The No. 16 UC San Diego women's volleyball team came back from two sets down to earn a thrilling five-set win over Cal State East Bay Saturday night at Pioneer Gym.
After dropping the first two sets by scores of 25-21 and 25-20, UCSD stormed back to win the next three, 25-12, 25-21 and 15-13.
Poor hitting plagued both teams as East Bay swung at .149 (57-27-201), just topping UC San Diego's .140 (55-28-193) attack percentage. Despite hitting .385 (16-1-39) in the second set, the Pioneers hit under .100 in each of the next three frames.
The Tritons dealt out eight service aces, their second-highest total of the season, and finished with a 10-dig advantage at 103 to 93.
UCSD's Hillary Williamson and Lauren Demos combined for 26 kills. Williamson contributed in several ways, totaling 14 kills with four aces and 26 digs, both career-highs. She also added a block to bring her point total to a match-best 19.5. Demos, a freshman middle blocker, hit .303 with 12 kills and two errors in 33 attacks.
For the 11th time this season, Roxanne Brunsting notched a double-double with 26 assists and 16 digs. In just her second match of the year, Lizzy Andrews recorded nine kills and seven digs, while Brittany Lombardi, who missed half of September due to injury, picked up 23 digs to smash her previous career-high of 14.
For East Bay, Katie Allen had a match-high 16 kills. Two other Pioneers had double-digit kill totals as Nicole Boyle totaled 14 and Kitona Offord had 13. Five CSUEB players had 10 or more digs, including Leslie Ray with 25.
"We had quite a few people come in and give us the sparks we needed," said UCSD head coach Ricci Luyties. "We could have easily just let go after losing that second game."
Six unanswered points in the first set gave UCSD a 19-14 lead, forcing CSUEB to take a timeout. Williamson had a kill and two aces in the run. The Pioneers returned to the floor and mounted their own comeback, taking the next five points to tied the set at 19-19. Two of the next three points went to UCSD, putting the Tritons back up, 21-20. However, East Bay peeled off another five straight to take the set and stun UCSD early.
The set, which had 14 tie scores and eight lead changes, saw UCSD post its worst attack percentage of the match at -.054 with just six kills and eight errors in 37 attempts.
UC San Diego jumped out to a 3-0 lead and worked it to 7-4 early in the second set. The Pioneers won seven of the next eight points to go up 11-8, but the Tritons fought back and eventually took a 15-14 lead. It would be the final time they would be on top in the set. CSUEB scored three times to take the lead for good at 17-15.
The next set saw a stunning turnaround and momentum shift as the Tritons went from hitting .146 (14-7-48) in the second set to .257 (13-4-35) in the third. The Pioneers went the other way, dropping from .385 all the way down to .053 (7-5-38). With a 7-6 lead, UCSD won 10 of the next 11 points to push its cushion to a commanding 10 points at 17-7. Brunsting was a force late in the set with a kill and a pair of blocks.
Several early runs in the fourth set helped UCSD to a 13-6 lead. The closest the Pioneers would get the rest of the way would be three points at 24-21, but Williamson knocked down a kill to force a fifth and deciding set.
East Bay used two Allen kills and another by Morgan Hirzel to go up 3-1 in the beginning of the final set. It was short-lived as the Pioneers committed three straight errors - one from the service line and two on the attack - and Demos floored a kill to put UCSD up 5-3, a lead the Tritons would not relinquish. Another four-point run spread the difference to five points at 10-5. CSUEB made it interesting with four straight points that got the Pioneers within one at 13-12. The teams traded the next two points on a Sara McCutchan kill and a Pioneer block before Demos ended the marathon with a kill off of a Brunsting set.
The win snapped UCSD's three-match losing streak as the Tritons improved to 11-4 overall and 7-4 in the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA). Cal State East Bay is now 10-6 overall and 5-6 in league action.
"I was really happy we fought so hard to win at their gym and hopefully we can keep the momentum going in the right direction," said Luyties.
Up next, UCSD plays another pair of CCAA matches on the road - Oct. 14 at San Francisco State and Oct. 15 at Cal Poly Pomona. The Tritons return to RIMAC Arena on Friday, Oct. 21 as Cal State L.A. visits for a 7 p.m. match.
- UCSDtritons.com -