In the final two matches of their season, the Pomona-Pitzer volleyball team found themselves unable to build any type of momentum with which they could end the season. On Friday, the Sagehens suffered a heartbreaking loss at University of Redlands 28-26, 21-25, 25-20, 23-25, 14-16. Later, despite giving Chapman University a good fight on Senior Night at Voelkel Gymnasium, P-P fell 25-11, 25-18, 25-15.
Though the Sagehens only have one graduating senior on their roster, Lauren “Kimmy” Kim PO ’13, Senior Night featured a particularly emotional ceremony. With her parents in attendance, Kim was honored by a speech from Coach Valerie Cowan, who highlighted the successful career Kim has experienced as a Sagehen. Playing in both the libero and defensive specialist positions, Kim was a SCIAC All-Academic team selection her junior year and has certainly been a defensive force for the volleyball team. Averaging a career high 4.01 digs per game, she has often kept the Sagehens in close matches with her ability to track down just about any hit. In fact, Kim had an absolutely monstrous game against eighth-ranking California Lutheran University, finishing with an incredible 25 digs against the eventual SCIAC champions. After Coach Cowan's emotional salute to her libero, it was the players’ turn to pay their tributes. After a round of speeches, the other Sagehens presented Kim with various departing gifts.
Perhaps still distracted by the emotional ceremony, the Sagehens started slow in the first game against Chapman and never seemed to recover. At two points apiece, the Panthers capitalized on strong serving to rattle off five straight points and take a large lead early in the game. Stretching their lead out to 15-10, the Panthers elevated their level of play at the Sagehen’s expense and used an onslaught of kills to pull away 23-10 before finally taking the game 25-11.
The Sagehens failed to let Chapman quickly take the match on such an important night and put up a tough fight in the second game. With kills coming from three different players, the Sagehens evened the score with the Panthers after 12 points. A few sloppy points by the Hens gave Chapman a slight lead, and from there the Panthers never looked back.
The volleyball team showed their true grit in the third game as they fought to stay in the match. Numerous attacking errors by Chapman, in combination with an aggressive Sagehen offense, put the volleyball team up 10-9 early in the second game. Unfortunately, the Sagehens could not hang on as the game progressed. Dominant play from Chapman’s Ashleigh Gideon helped the Panthers win seven out of the last eight points, finishing the match by a final game score of 25-15.
Perhaps one of the strongest points of the match for the Sagehens was the play of Maria Weyhrauch PO ’15. A member of both the volleyball and women’s basketball teams, the versatile Weyhrauch led P-P with a season-high eight kills on Saturday night. Though only accumulating 52 kills this season, Weyhrauch will be expected to have a greater contribution to the team in the next couple of years.
The Sagehens were unable to repeat the magic of their original thriller against Redlands on Friday and fell in an extremely tight, five-game match. In the first game, P-P managed to rattle off three straight points after being down match point at 25-26. Up seven points at 11-4, Redlands never let the Sagehens back into that match in the second game and evened the match at one set all.
Once more splitting close sets to even the match at two games each, the fifth game featured intense drama. Neither team faltered under the pressure, and the Sagehens led 8-7 before Redlands tied it up at 10 points apiece. An error by P-P and consecutive kills from Redlands gave the Bulldogs a pair of match points at 14-12. Resilience from the Sagehens evened up the score at 14-14 with an attack error from Redlands. After a timeout, Redlands prevailed with two consecutive kills, giving P-P a heartbreaking loss in their final weekend of play.
After two invitational tournaments and 16 SCIAC tournament matches, the Sagehens finish their season with a 9-15 overall record and 4-12 in the conference. While the volleyball team flourished in and out of conference play, much improvement is needed to improve their position in the SCIAC. Luckily, with the promise of offensive stars Michelle Schultz PO ’16 and Ellen Yamasaki PZ ’15, the Sagehens are certainly capable of such improvement.
The team has “learned a great deal this season, despite the injuries and challenges we have seen, so I am looking forward to continuing to improve and gain momentum as we … prepare for 2013,” Cowan said.