'Eaters reach bottom

IRVINE — How do you formulate a post-match address to your team when flat-lining would be an improvement?

UC Irvine women's volleyball coach Paula Weishoff, who said she will surely fail to sleep after a 25-10, 25-11, 25-15 Big West Conference drubbing by visiting Long Beach State Tuesday at the Bren Events Center, in which the last-place Anteaters posted a negative hitting percentage, may find the words yet.

"For the first time in my coaching career, I was at a loss on what to say," said Weishoff, whose team had 21 hitting errors and 20 kills in 122 total attempts for a negative .008 hitting percentage.

Weishoff, in her 15th season of coaching after a playing career that included three Olympics and induction into the USA Volleyball Hall of Fame, said she had never even seen a team hit negative, much less be a part of such a performance.

"It hurt," said Weishoff, whose team came in hitting .155 this season, which ranked No. 262 among the 318 division I programs that reported stats through Sunday. "It hurt a lot, because we are a better team than that, and we train harder than that, and our kids want it more than that. It hurts all the way to the core and there is a scar deep inside after a presentation like that."

UCI (5-9, 0-3 in conference) has lost five straight and is the only one of nine Big West teams without a conference win. The Anteaters have hit better than .200 in only three matches this season, with a high of .277 in a win over Utah State on Sept. 16. UCI's previous low was .066 in a win against Portland State.

UCI's 36 points represent a school-worst in the rally scoring era that began in 2001. The previous rally scoring low came in a 30-8, 30-19, 30-13 loss to Long Beach State in 2001.

Junior libero Kristin Winkler had 18 digs to pace UCI.

Weishoff singled out the play of sophomore middle blocker Arielle Manz, who came off the bench to post two kills and four block assists. She hit .067, second only to reserve outside hitter Taylor Smith (.250 with three kills) among UCI players with more than one attack attempt.

Sophomore outside hitter Aly Squires led UCI with seven kills, but she hit .000. UCI starting middles Pauline Acres (negative .357 on 14 attempts) and Alex Hauser (negative .286 on seven attempts), as well as Shannon Fleming (.000 on eight attempts) and Shaina Olsen (.048 with three kills on 21 attempts) contributed to the malaise.

Starting setter Mary Carls had 12 assists with a .145 setting percentage on 83 attempts.

Reserve Marissa Alvarez had two assists and an .087 setting percentage on 23 attempts.

Acres had four block assists and Fleming had her team's lone ace.

"When you are afraid, that's probably the worst state for an athlete to be in," Weishoff said. "We played afraid tonight."

The 49ers (9-6, 3-2) hit .281, led by 6-foot-6 middle Haleigh Hampton (nine kills and a .500 percentage). Hampton added one solo block and four block assists.

UCI returns to action Friday at home against Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

"I finally told them that it's not about what happened [Tuesday], but it's about what happens [at practice Wednesday]," Weishoff said. "You can give up, you can quit, you can give all these excuses for why we can't go forward. But we're at the bottom, so there's only one place to go."


Twitter: @BarryFaulkner5

Copyright © 2019, Daily Pilot
EDITION: California | U.S. & World