Will Howard | Nov. 7, 2014, 11:50 p.m.
To end its regular season, Pomona-Pitzer's women’s volleyball team swept the California Institute of Technology on Friday, Oct. 31, and the University of La Verne on Saturday, Nov. 1. Following the wins, the Hens faced No. 3 California Lutheran University on Thursday, Nov. 6, to kick off the SCIAC tournament.
Against Caltech (1-21, 0-15 SCIAC), the Sagehens had a bit of trouble getting a comfortable lead in the first set but were still able to claim a 25-17 win. The next two sets came much more easily as the Hens settled into an offensive rhythm, winning 25-4 in the second and 25-10 in the third.
The team relied less on their best hitter, Allie Frappier PO ’15, but Frappier still led with six kills in one set, while Stephanie Sun PO ’17 had five kills in eight attempts for a .625 hitting percentage. Jessica Finn PO’18 delivered 15 assists and three aces, while Elizabeth Sun PO ’17 tallied 12 assists.
The game against La Verne (20-5, 12-4 SCIAC) was a faster-paced game, featuring high-performance volleyball with many long rallies.
The Hens pulled out a tight, first-set victory, going on a three-point run when the score was tied at 22-22. In the second set, P-P used a crucial, seven-point run to turn an 18-17 deficit into a 24-18 lead, taking the set 25-19 after a kill from Ellen Yamasaki PZ ’15. The final set was close like the first two, concluding with Frappier’s 21st kill of the game.
Earlier in the season, it was La Verne who swept P-P, but the Hens came better prepared this time.
“They [La Verne] weren’t very good last year, so I think we underestimated them in the first match,” Kirea Mazzolini PO ’15 said.
Mazzolini contributed six kills in eight attempts in the second La Verne game.
“A few of us actually went and watched them play Cal Lu on their own Senior Night on Thursday," Mazzolini said. "I think scouting them a little bit beforehand helped us see what their tendencies are."
Finn agreed that this scouting was instrumental to their win because it reminded the Sagehens of the quickness of La Verne’s offense.
“We weren’t as taken aback by it as in the first game," Finn said. "That was definitely crucial.”
Mazzolini also cited the emotions surrounding Senior Night as one of the things that helped the Sagehens win the game. Knowing that this could be the last win in their volleyball careers gave Mazzolini and her fellow seniors a sense of urgency.
“It was sort of hard to go from our coach saying nice things about us to playing,” Mazzolini said.
However, harnessing this emotion gave the Hens an edge.
“I think everything clicked so well on Saturday just because everyone realized that this is it—it's now or never—and really left it all out on the court,” Mazzolini added.
All the little mistakes that plagued P-P's performance against Claremont-Mudd-Scripps on Oct. 24 disappeared as the Hens came to the court in top form.
“It was a very clean, good game of volleyball. I think it was our best of the year. If we play like that against Cal Lu on Thursday, I think we’ll win," Mazzolini said, prior to the Cal Lutheran game.
The fourth-seeded Hens traveled to Cal Lutheran on Thursday to face the top-seeded Regals in one of two semifinal games of the SCIAC tournament.
“Obviously it will be harder not playing at home," Mazzolini said before the game. "But I think as long as we seniors keep in mind that this could be our last game, that if we don’t bring it every point, we won’t get any other chances, we’ll win."
More than anything, however, the Hens were looking forward to the game and using any nervous energy to gear themselves up for a great match.
“Everyone is really excited," Finn said, prior to the game. "The seniors on the team are getting everybody mentally ready to go. We’re all feeding off each other’s energy."
Cal Lu (26-2, 15-1 SCIAC) came into the SCIAC tournament having just swept Whittier College to clinch its fifth straight outright SCIAC title. In their first game against P-P, the Regals won 3-1. In the second, the Regals took the sweep at Voelkel Gymnasium.
The Regals completed the season sweep of the Sagehens as they took the 3-0 win in the SCIAC semifinal game on Thursday, Nov. 6. Despite the Hens' season coming to an end, the future years look bright for the Hens as they should continue to be a force in the SCIAC.