With a double-header on Saturday against Caltech and Occidental College, the Pomona-Pitzer volleyball team needed to be in top form in order to boost their ailing record before their season comes to a close at the end of the month. The Sagehens dominated Caltech in the morning 25-13, 25-11, 25-15 before falling to Oxy in a close 3-1 fight 25-19, 14-25, 19-25, 13-25.
When the Sagehens came to Voelkel Gymnasium Saturday morning, they knew that their match against the Caltech Beavers would likely be a short one. The 0-14 Beavers have only managed to win one game this entire season against eighth-place University of Redlands. In fact, Coach Val Cowan decided to rest standout Michelle Schultz PO ‘16 ahead of the Oxy match and ensured that all of her players were able to contribute to the Sagehen win.
In the first game, the Beavers started strong before P-P settled into the game and quickly took a commanding 13-7 lead with multiple kills from Ellen Yamasaki PZ '15 and Samantha Cahill PO ’15. From there on, the Sagehens never looked back and only saw Caltech take a brief lead at the onset of the third game before rallying to take the easy victory.
Riding the momentum of their win against Caltech, the Sagehens came into their match against Oxy swinging. With the help of dominant serves from Lauren Kim PO '13, P-P jumped out to a 7-3 lead which eventually was stretched out to 12-5 off of a Yamasaki kill. While numerous counterattacks attempted to shave off the large P-P lead—at one point Oxy pulled within one point at 12-11—the Sagehens' offense proved too much to handle for the Tigers and gave the home team the first set 25-19.
Such Sagehen dominance would not hold, however. Oxy’s Logan Boyer-Hayse '13 and Stephanie Gann '14, who together amassed 13 kills in the game, gave the Tigers a near-insurmountable boost as they quickly dismantled the P-P lead. Pushing their lead forward to 20-11, Oxy ensured that the Sagehens would have no chance of making a late comeback as a Tiger kill evened the match at one set all.
Perhaps the best volleyball came in the third set. For a large portion of the game, both teams exchanged points, as neither was able to attain a substantial advantage. Up 10-9, the Tigers finally broke through with the help of a couple of Sagehen attacking errors to extend their lead to 17-13. P-P never recovered, giving the Tigers a 2-1 advantage heading into the fourth.
In the final game of the match, Oxy quickly accumulated a large lead and never looked back. Jumping to 21-11 and then holding for 24-13, a service ace closed out the match for the Sagehens.
Following the loss, P-P volleyball finds itself at 9-12 overall with a brutal 4-9 record in the SCIAC. Oxy's comeback effectively pushes the Sagehens out of contention for a postseason berth heading into the final matches of the season. Despite starting the season off strong with a 5-2 record following two early non-conference tournaments, the Sagehens have since been continually rattled by their SCIAC rivals. In fact, the four conference wins by the Sagehens this season have all been against teams with worse records.
Looking forward, however, the Sagehens certainly have promise. One of the most dominant players on the team has been Schultz, who will likely improve throughout the next four years and become a leader of the team. Stepping up when Schultz suffered an injury before P-P took on Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, Yamasaki has also demonstrated her offensive prowess and her ability to quickly end points. In fact, Yamasaki’s 217 kills this season are significantly higher than the second-most Sagehen. While the Sagehens will not be able to pull off a winning record this season, their young talent gives them plenty of hope for the future.
In the final week of their season, the Sagehens play at CMS and then at Redlands before returning home for their last home match against Chapman University.