Following their tough loss last week at home against neighbors Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, how would women’s volleyball respond this week with three tough SCIAC conference match ups? Unfortunately, the loss to the Athenas seemed to stick with the Sagehens as they fell to University of La Verne, Whittier College and California Lutheran University, all while only winning one set in the process. After playing strong volleyball against first-place La Verne for three sets with a final score of 26-24, 25-13, 26-24, the Sagehens could not seem to muster the same intensity against number-eight ranked Cal Lutheran, falling 25-16, 25-17, 25-15.
From the onset, the Regals made quick work of P-P. Jumping out to a large lead, Cal Lutheran showed their home audience why they have been able to maintain an 8-1 record in the SCIAC this season with a 17-4 overall record. Playing with virtually no flaws, the Regals relied heavily on Pua Mo'okini-Oliveira '16 in the first game, and she accumulated five kills in six hits. After the Sagehens very quickly saw themselves fall to a 21-11 lead, they settled into the game and mitigated the dominant Cal Lutheran offense, winning four out of the next six points in the process. Unfortunately, as the game progressed, the unwavering consistency of the Regals proved too much to handle for P-P, and Cal Lutheran pulled away with 25-16.
While the Sagehens may have lost, Tuesday also marked a more positive note for the team. For the first time in more than a week, P-P featured Michelle Schultz PO ’16 on the court after she suffered an injury in practice the day before the Sagehens took on the Athenas. As a first-year, Schultz has had an outstanding season and, before her injury, led the Sagehens in kills. Upon her return, Schultz immediately had a direct impact on the team and quickly began where she left off. Schultz finished the match with six kills, only behind Ellen Yamasaki PZ ’15. In Michelle Schultz’s absence, Yamasaki took over offensively and has played tremendously throughout the last week. Looking forward to the next couple of games for the Sagehens, it should be interesting to see if Yamasaki is able to keep up her offensive prowess now that she has Schultz back by her side.
The second game showcased great volleyball from both the Sagehens and the Regals. Giving Cal Lutheran all they could handle, P-P took a two-point lead with a Yamasaki kill to make the score 8-6. After evening up the score at ten points apiece, Cal Lutheran managed to win the next six points with multiple kills that the Sagehens were unable to handle. Never letting the Regals completely pull away, P-P managed to hang tough and keep the score at 22-16 before numerous kills allowed the Regals to secure the second game 25-17.
The Regals never let the Sagehens back into the match in the third game. With three consecutive service aces by Cal Lutheran amounting to a 6-0 run, the Regals raced to an 11-2 lead. P-P was not able to sustain any significant momentum, and four Sagehen attacking errors allowed Cal Lutheran to maintain a lead throughout the final game. Finally pulling themselves to victory with a kill, Cal Lutheran’s resilience gave them the 25-15 game win.
After four consecutive losses, the Sagehens find themselves at 8-11 with a 3-8 SCIAC record. This leaves them in seventh place in the conference. After many vicissitudes throughout the season, the Sagehens must wonder whether they are legitimate contenders for the SCIAC title. Despite strong wins against Whittier and Redlands, in which the Sagehens demonstrated their tenacity and ability to dig deep when down, P-P has also suffered brutal losses to opponents including CMS and Occidental College. More often than not, the Sagehens find their opponents jumping to large leads, and thus they must mount a comeback themselves. While in a few occasions, such as the epic thriller against Redlands, the Sagehens do successfully counteract their opponent’s lead, many times the players see themselves losing sets after their opponent’s lead becomes insurmountable. If the Sagehens are going to return to their winning ways and become a greater force in the SCIAC, perhaps they must find a way to start quicker and mount a large lead themselves.
The Sagehens return to Voelkel Gymnasium this weekend as they take on Caltech at 11 a.m. and Occidental at 5 p.m.