Following their legendary victory last week at home, how would the Sagehens respond to a grueling week of three consecutive SCIAC matches? Unfortunately, Pomona-Pitzer proved unable to maintain the magic of last week, capping off losses to Cal Lutheran and Chapman with a 25-15, 25-20, 25-18 loss at rival Occidental. Currently, the Sagehens sit at .500 with a 7-7 record and a 2-4 conference record that leaves them ranked fifth in the SCIAC.
From the onset, P-P was unable to find any momentum to resist the domination of the Tigers. In the first game, Oxy jumped out to a 9-3 advantage that was eventually stretched to a nearly insurmountable 20-9. The Sagehens had no answers for the Tigers’ outside hitter, Stephanie Gann, who logged 12 kills throughout the match, double that of any Sagehen. Never giving up, P-P made Occidental earn the set and mounted a small comeback before finally falling 25-15.
Undoubtedly the best volleyball came in the second game. Here, the Sagehens held their only lead of the match, a 7-6 advantage that quickly dissipated after consecutive kills by the dominant Gann. The Tigers jumped to a 21-14 lead, and it seemed as if the Sagehens were going to let up and let Oxy make quick work of them. Yet, maintaining composure and pulling together, the Hens suddenly became more aggressive and continued to shave points off the large Tiger lead. Behind the offensive play of Michelle Schultz PO ’16 and the defensive power of Lauren “Kimmy” Kim PO ’13, P-P rallied to bring the game within three at 23-20. Just as it seemed that the Sagehens might mount a comeback for the ages, Oxy elevated the level of their play and put away the game with two consecutive kills.
Libero and defensive specialist Kim finished the match with ten digs, quietly continuing to play one of the most important roles this season for the Sagehens. As a senior and a SCIAC All-Academic team member in 2011, Kim has been utterly dominant on defense throughout her four years of playing volleyball. Her incredible efforts to keep the ball in play through her athletic digs allow the flashier offensive players to finish points with kills. With a team-leading 178 digs this season, Kim’s strong play has brought out the best in the rest of her team. Perhaps her best game came last Friday in the team’s tough 3-1 loss at Cal Lutheran. Kim led the stats sheet after accumulating an astounding 25 digs throughout the match. If the Sagehens are to continue their winning ways and make their way into the post-season, it will certainly be Kim, diving across the floor to get balls, who will get them there.
Unable to exploit their strong play in the second game, the Sagehens once again saw Occidental begin with a strong lead in the third. The Tigers never let up, dominating as they hit .424. A 20-8 Oxy run was challenged by the Sagehens, who brought the score to 24-18 with an ace from Dani Kritter PO ’15. Unfortunately, the Sagehens were never able to make a decisive breakthrough in the third set, and the match ended with yet another kill by Gann.
All in all, it was Oxy's consistency that definitely made the difference in the match. While the Tigers had 11 errors with 47 kills, the Sagehens finished with only 22 kills, six of them coming from Schultz. And while Pomona hit a measly .088 throughout the match, Oxy managed to keep their kill percentage at .375. The Tiger’s outside hitters rarely made any errors on which the Sagehens could capitalize, and a steady pace from the defense enabled Oxy to rack up kills at P-P’s expense.
The Sagehens have quite an eventful schedule for next week, as they take on Redlands today before their biggest match of the year against rivals Claremont-Mudd-Scripps at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 2 in Voekel Gymnasium. With CMS mounting an impressive 10-4 overall record this season, it should be an exciting match.