January 31, 2023

Riding a six-game win streak and holding onto first place in the Western Athletic Conference, CBU women’s volleyball picked up a five-set win over the University of California, Riverside, in the CBU Events Center Tuesday night.

The Lancers jumped to an early advantage, winning the first two sets 25-21 and 25-18. However, CBU dropped the next two sets as UCR held on and forced a decisive fifth set.

In the fifth, CBU came from behind to edge the Highlanders 15-13 and move to 18-5 overall, giving CBU a perfect 6-0 in five-set matches.

“We don’t make it easy. What we know is we have to play well in order to win,” said Branden Higa, head coach of women’s volleyball. “That’s what we’ve found out this year.”

Tessa Oaks, sophomore exercise science major and outside hitter, said the team has confidence in the close games even after surrendering consecutive sets to the Highlanders.

“We have been in that situation a couple times,” Oaks said. “We were kind of hesitant in those last two sets, but we just said, ‘Forget it and let’s just play our hearts out’ and that’s what we did.”

Megan Sester, freshman un-declared major and outside hitter, led the way offensively with 21 kills. Meanwhile Oaks and Summer Avery, graduate kinesiology student, both notched double-doubles.

“Natalie Zimmerer was set- ting really well,” Avery said. “We had some great defense go- ing on. We were making scrappy balls and that just lights a fire in me and makes me want to play harder. I give it to my team and it’s just a good win for us.”

In the first volleyball game in the Events Center, CBU set a program attendance record, welcoming 2,781 fans.

“This was amazing to get almost 2,800 people in there and it was rocking. I could get used to it,” Higa said. “This was a big- time environment.”

Adding to the festivities was a presentation of the Division II Learfield Directors’ Cup, which CBU won during the 2017-18 competition.

“We had a blast. The CBU community always supports us and we really felt it today,” Avery said. “That was the most fun game I’ve ever played for sure. Just the crowd and the atmosphere. We had a good time.”

The Riverside Division I matchup only magnified the intense game.

Avery said the Lancers acknowledged the importance of the rivalry but it did not change the team’s approach.

“We go into every competition the same way: with the intention of playing our best and competing. so having it a local rivalry is always good, but we treat every competition pretty much the same,” Avery said.

Women’s volleyball’s next game will be Saturday at 1 p.m.

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