Riverside, Calif. - After a slow and sluggish start, the Golden Eagles (6-1, 1-0) women's volleyball team found themselves down two sets to none, before taking the final three sets and pushing their home winning streak to seven, dating back to last season.
It was a match that started off with a marathon first set. Neither team enjoyed a lead of more than three points in the set, but the Pioneers (6-4, 0-1) were able to fight off seven La Sierra set points to pull out a 34-32 win in the first set.
The second set was another tightly played contest throughout. The largest lead for either team was the final score, 25-21, which was aided by a six-point run in the middle of the set, by the Pioneers. The Golden Eagles held a 13-10 lead midway through the set, until the Pioneers rattled off six straight points on their way to the second set victory.
But the Golden Eagles would not be denied in their first ever Cal Pac match, against their sister-school from the north. They jumped out to 7-3 lead in the early going of set three and eventually built their lead to 20-12, on their way to a 25-17 win.
La Sierra followed things up with a similar victory in set number four. After jumping out to a quick three point lead the Pioneers fought back for a three point lead of their own (8-11). With the Golden Eagles trailing 9-11, the two teams exchanged a pair of service errors, before Lupe Garcia, on serve, started an 8-0 run by the Golden Eagles to lead 17-11. They would slowly and methodically carry that momentum to a 25-17 win in the fourth set.
In the fifth set, where every play is magnified, the two teams exchanged the lead early on. With the scored tied at 4-4, the Golden Eagles would outscore the Pioneers 11-3 to secure their sixth win of the season, 15-7 in set five.
Outside hitter Lina Semaia led the Golden Eagles with 18 kills. Lupe Garcia added 12 kills with only three errors on 27 attempts (.333). Garcia also tallied eight digs and five service aces. Robyn Miller pitched in with 11 kills, five digs, and three block assists.
Setter Colleen Stafford contributed with 44 assists and a team-high 10 digs. Sasha Birt-Moody, who sparked the Golden Eagles comeback, was involved in four of the team's 13 blocks.
Neither team made things easy on themselves at times, as each team finished with a total of 14 service errors in the match.
The Pioneers were led by outside hitter Viridiana Gallardo with 17 kills, while Kailey Faust finished with 51 assists and libero Lauren Secchitano added 19 digs, both game highs.
The Golden Eagles will finish off the week at the Vanguard University Tournament this weekend. The team will face #4 Biola University in the opener, on Friday morning, followed by an afternoon match with #19 Vanguard. They will close things out with a match against (RV) CSU San Marcos, on Saturday night.
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