Yamasaki Leads Sagehens Past Redlands

The Pomona-Pitzer volleyball team lost a tight contest against Occidental College last Friday night.

Occidental, previously ranked 22nd in the nation, won the first set 25-18, taking advantage of a dynamic attack that accounted for 72 kills that night. The Sagehens tightened up their play to take the second set 25-23 before losing the third 23-25. Facing defeat, the Sagehens responded with their best set of the night, notching 15 kills against only two errors and winning the fourth set 25-23. They were unable to maintain that level of play in the final set, however, as they fell behind quickly and were unable to close the gap, falling 10-15.

Outside hitter Jordan Hammond PO ’12 led the Sagehens with 15 kills, and libero Heidi Leonard PO ’12 led all players with 40 digs. Coach Valerie Cowan was assessed a yellow card for leaving the coaching box during the second set. Afterward, she expressed disappointment in the loss but was pleased with her team’s effort.

“I was really happy with the way we battled,” Coach Cowan said. “They’re a good team, and they’re going to be in it to win the conference. [We’ve] just got to get more kills than the other team.”

On Tuesday night, the volleyball team got back on track with a conference win at Redlands, improving their season record to four wins and nine losses.

After losing the first set, P-P took a commanding lead midway through the second and held on to win 25-23. In the third set, the Sagehens overcame a late Redlands lead to win 25-24. The final set was the Sagehens’ strongest, as they held Redlands to just nine kills and won 25-18, bringing their SCIAC record to two wins and two losses. The team is now tied for fourth in the conference.

Outside hitter Ellen Yamasaki PZ ’15 had an outstanding individual performance, leading the Sagehens with 17 kills and 18 digs. Several of these kills came at key moments in the match, such as in the second set when Yamasaki executed four straight kills. Setter Kenzie Aries PZ ’12 had 40 assists, two service aces, and no errors.

The Sagehens’ play against Redlands was characterized by several runs. The final set alone featured a stretch where the Sagehens won nine of ten points, allowed five straight, then won six in a row to close out the match. The Sagehens’ talent allowed them to overcome their tendency to lapse at times, and they hope to improve that consistency.

The Pomona-Pitzer volleyball team will continue conference play at home against struggling Caltech Friday night before heading to battle conference power Cal Lutheran on Saturday.

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