Late comeback powers Pac-12 all-stars past Fujian in five-set thriller

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Pac-12 Conference

SANMING, China – Down two sets to start Thursday’s match, the Pac-12 All-Star Team battled back to win 22-25, 21-25, 25-17, 25-18 and 16-14 win over Fujian thanks to a burst of energy from Karsta Lowe and Penina Snuka.

Before the third set, assistant coach Stacy Metro suggested the team had to "fake it until they make it." In this case, the team needed any energy, even fake, to turn around the match.

“Karsta was the first one to fake it, and she made everyone smile and come to life,” head coach Jim Moore said. “Penina and Karsta both brought all of the energy to get things going. We brought Penina up to sit on the bench, just so she could yell and provide energy to the group.”

Lowe, an opposite from UCLA, finished the night with 19 kills and five digs, while the Arizona freshman provided key serving and digging to the team coming off the bench.

Serving was the primary difference for the Pac-12 team, which more handily defeated the same Fujian team the previous night in four sets. There were seven service errors in the first two sets and 14 total for the match.

“[Fujian] served better tonight, and at the beginning we served horribly,” Moore said. “We could have underhand served better than we did. Once (Fujian) was able to pass and run its offense, they gave us fits. Teams just don’t look as good when you’re serving tough. They looked unstoppable until we starting serving better,” Moore said.

After falling behind in the third set, 7-4, the Pac-12 team took the lead going into the first technical timeout, 8-7, and never relinquished the lead. The block came to life in the third with USC’s Samantha Bricio, Washington’s Melanie Wade and Lowe each registering stuff blocks and putting the set out of reach.

Lillian Schonewise, middle blocker from Cal, was instrumental in the fourth-set victory with four of her nine kills. The junior hit .615 on the night.

Colorado’s Taylor Simpson helped make the team’s 2-0 record for the trip a reality with three kills in the final set, including the final point of the evening. She finished with 14 kills.

The squad is traveling with 12 players and two of the outside hitters – Stanford’s Brittany Howard (quad tweak) and Washington State’s Emmy Allen (ankle sprain) – were unavailable to play because of injury.

“Brittany being out hurt us in the beginning,” Moore said. “The team had to figure out how to deal with a different lineup, which eventually happened. Brittany coming back will help a lot. Right now we are just managing the best we can but don’t have that many options.”

Howard is expected to return to the lineup Friday when all-star team plays its third match in as many days at 6 p.m. local time against the Chinese Junior National Team.