Sagehens volleyball defeats Whittier Poets in regular season opener

Paige Wilson PO ’25 goes for a kill during the Sagehens’ victory over Whittier on Sept. 22. (Courtesy: Abbey Liao)

Coming off of a preseason three-game losing streak, Pomona-Pitzer (P-P) volleyball opened their regular season by defeating the Whittier Poets at home on Friday, Sept. 22 in Voelkel Gymnasium. Both teams entered the night with a 4-7 record in preseason play, but the Sagehens dominated the matchup, winning all three sets.

Although Whittier led 6-5 early on, this would prove to be their only lead. A diving play to keep the ball up led to a kill by Samantha Grabb PO ’27, giving the Sagehens some momentum and a 10-7 lead. When Whittier came back to tie it at 12-12, a kill by Paige Wilson PO ’24 gave P-P the upper hand once again. A sit-down block by Grabb put them up 19-16 and P-P stuck it out, winning the set 25-22.

Grabb highlighted the Hens’ grit as the driving force during the comeback.

 “I think we were really scrappy,” Grabb said. “They are a really good defensive team and we kept in it and then finished.”

The Hens picked up right where they left off. Wasting no time, they got three kills in a row to put themselves ahead 4-2 in the second set. Riding the momentum, P-P extended their lead to 8-3 after a diving set off a block by Kellan Hayes PO ’25. The Hens sustained their advantage until a serving streak by Whittier knotted the score at 18 apiece. Nevertheless, P-P responded with a four-point streak, winning the second set 25-22.

The third and final set began neck-and-neck. A kick save from Eleanor Nicholson PO ’24 established a 5-3 lead early on, but the Sagehens and the Poets continued trading blows. Whittier’s libero and Benson traded digs late in the set, but the Hens persisted and won the point, extending their lead to 17-14. P-P maintained their lead and won the third set 25-19, sealing a 3-0 victory.

Despite the commanding win, Hays explained the Hens still have some work to do ahead of facing upcoming conference opponents.

“I think that we need to work covering our hitters and hitting to smart spots,” Hayes said. “Also keeping our energy up when we are down is key.”

According to Corrina Benson PO ’27, who had 12 assists against the Poets, the Sagehens went into the game organized and stayed consistent throughout.

“We executed our game plan amazingly,” Corrina Benson said.

Although the Sagehens had mixed results this preseason, the team is hopeful this game will be a sign for the rest of the regular season. According to Benson, the team seems to have found its footing.

 “I’m excited to see us start playing more as a team because we definitely did that this game,” Benson said. “We’ve struggled with that in the past, but now we are starting to connect.”

Following a loss to Caltech on Sept. 23, the Hens bounced back by sweeping Chapman on Sept. 26 to bring their record to 2-1 (6-8) on the season. P-P will play twice this weekend, taking on Occidental on Friday at 7 p.m. and then facing off against cross-street rivals and defending SCIAC Champions Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (CMS) on Saturday at 4 p.m. at Voelkel Gymnasium.

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