STOCKTON – Freshman outside hitter Emily Baptista had a career-high 18 kills and senior outside hitter Lexi Elman had double digits in kills and digs for the eighth time this season and the Pacific women’s volleyball team outlasted Portland 3-1 in the West Coast Conference opener for both teams Thursday at Spanos Center.
The Tigers (7-6, 1-0 WCC) breezed through the first two games, lost the third and pulled through late in the fourth for a 25-14, 25-20, 23-25 25-23 win in front of 536 fans. Pacific’s eight-match home stand concludes at noon Saturday against Gonzaga.
“We came out really strong in the first two and I think coming out we underestimated them and thought it was going to be easy to just put them away,” said Baptista, a Hilmar High product. “We kind of started letting up. We weren’t playing as hard as we should have. Communication wasn’t really there.”
The Tigers had seven team blocks through the first two games then appeared to let up as the Pilots’ Hannah Troutman took over with nine kills in Game 3. Troutman started quickly with a kill for her team’s first point in Game 4 and she had another kill that gave Portland a 4-3 lead. The Pilots led 11-8 after a hitting error by the Tigers, but Pacific fought back and tied it after a Skylar Wine kill, a Portland hitting error and a combined block by Andie Shelton and Ashlyn Fleming.
Later, the Tigers led 20-18 and appeared to be in control when the Pilots (7-6, 0-1) tied it on two consecutive kills by Troutman. Then, Pacific sophomore middle blocker Janie Feldsher kicked into high gear. She had a kill to break the 20-20 tie, a solo block that made it 22-20 and after another kill by Wine that gave the Tigers a 24-22 lead, Feldsher ended the match with a kill at the net on an overpass.
“You definitely have to read the team and if it starts to get quiet, you need to look around and if someone needs to start having energy you need to be that person and step up,” said Feldsher, who’s from Claremont. “So, I just tried whenever any good thing happened to just yell as loud as I could and get everyone going. Energy is everything.”
Feldsher finished with 13 kills with zero errors on 21 swings for a .619 hitting percentage, and Pacific hit .322 as a team. Baptista hit .395 with three errors on 38 swings, and Elman had her 38th career double-double with16 digs and 11 kills. Shelton had six kills with no errors on nine swings (.667), and also had a double-double with 41 assists and 10 digs to go with four block assists and two solo blocks in an all-around terrific effort. Fleming had six block assists and Pacific finished with 11 total team blocks to just 3.0 by the Pilots.
Troutman finished with a match-high 24 kills and hit .309. Katie Sullivan had 11 kills and Portland hit .182 as a team. The Pilots entered the match averaging a WCC-best 2.01 aces per game but had just two the entire match.
The Tigers have won are 5-2 on their home stand and look to improve to 2-0 in the WCC with a win Saturday.
“It’s really exciting, especially with all of the young girls on the team,” Feldsher said. “Just kind of getting to show them the ropes and show them the conference and how competitive it is and how fun it is. It’s a great time.”
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