FULLERTON, Calif. – Freshman Niki Withers hammered down 22 kills and posted a career-best hitting percentage as Cal State Fullerton snapped a five-match losing streak with a 3-0 (25-16, 26-24, 25-19) Big West Conference victory over visiting UC Riverside Saturday night at Titan Gym.
The Titans (8-18, 2-11) held the Highlanders (2-23, 0-13) to a .046 hitting percentage and tallied five service aces on the night, including three from Rachel Brown.
Withers was outstanding for the Titans, recording at least six kills in each set and posting a career-best .400 hitting percentage, blasting down 22 kills with just six errors in 40 attempts. Mackenzie Olsen dished out 40 assists on the night and added three blocks while Holland Crenshaw and Katelyn Nielsen each recorded seven kills on offense. Paige Reed anchored the defense with a season-high 19 digs with Brown adding nine.
For the Highlanders, Cristina Maietta led the way with 10 kills and seven digs with Alex Gresham and Megan Reza adding six kills apiece. Sarah Bruchet dished out 24 assists to go along with six digs.
In the first set, both teams were tied four times and traded the lead twice. The Titans were nursing a two-point lead at 16-14 but opened it up to 22-14 thanks to five attacking errors by the Highlanders. Overall, the Highlanders committed eight errors in the first set and 24 on the night while the Titans limited their mistakes, committing 16 errors for the match.
The Titans also hit .312 in the opening set and also got it done on the defensive end with 14 of the team's 44 digs in the opening frame.
In the second set, the Titans needed overtime and overcame a set point for the Highlanders. Trailing 24-23, the Titans tied the game on a service error by Alex Gresham. Withers then blasted her eighth kill of the set to push the Highlanders to the brink and then an attacking error by Reza gave the Titans a commanding two-set lead.
In the third set, the Highlanders hung around as both teams were tied seven times in the frame but the Titans got eight more kills from Withers, including the match-clinching point to secure the victory.
The Titans will play their final home game of the season on Saturday night as they welcome UC Irvine into Titan Gym at 7 p.m.
Notes: The Titans had 12 blocks on the night including four from Crenshaw (two solo)… Fullerton is 7-0 this season when having a higher hitting percentage than their opponent… The Titans have beaten the Highlanders 20 straight times… Saturday marked the Titans third sweep of the season and first since defeating Brown in straight sets on Sept. 6.