The Pomona-Pitzer volleyball team had a busy week with three important conference games. They swept Caltech in straight sets on Friday but suffered setbacks against Cal Lutheran and La Verne.
In their matchup with Caltech, the Sagehens jumped out to an early lead and handily won the first set 25-5. The second set was more of the same, with the Sagehens using an efficient attack and good defense to win 25-8. In the third set, Caltech managed to grab the first point, but the Sagehens soon took control to win 25-13.
The Sagehens’ depth was on full display, as five players had more than five kills. Ellen Yamasaki PZ ’15 led the Sagehens with 11 assists, and Heidi Leonard PO ’12 directed a strong defensive effort with 14 digs.
The Sagehens knew going into their game against Cal Lutheran that they were in for a challenge. Cal Lu entered the match ranked 15th in the nation and hadn’t lost a SCIAC match since 2009. Coach Valerie Cowan offered up some pre-match advice to help settle her players before the big game.
“We’ve got to control our side of the court. They’re a good team, so we’ve got to play like we did against Redlands,” she said. The Sagehens were up for the challenge in the first set, but the Regals were on top of their game and narrowly prevailed, 25-22. They then took the next two sets 25-20 and 20-16.
Against Cal Lutheran, Jordan Hammond PO ’12 tallied 12 kills, and setter Kenzie Aries PZ ’12 had 28 assists. However, the Sagehens were simply unable to overcome Cal Lu’s talent and consistency.
The Sagehens finished their week by hosting La Verne in an important conference match. They entered the contest a half-game behind the Tigers for fourth place in the SCIAC, important since only the first four teams compete in the year-end conference tournament.
As expected, the match was a close, hard-fought affair. After coming back from five points down early in the first set, the two teams went back and forth until the Sagehens took the final two points to win 26-24. In the second set, a disputed call on a La Verne block led to some discussion before the referees gave the Sagehens a 24-23 lead, but they were unable to close it out and lost the set 26-24. La Verne jumped out to an early lead and controlled the third set en route to a 25-21 win. P-P did the same with their backs against the wall, winning the fourth set 25-19. In the final set, the Sagehens managed an early 7-5 lead, but La Verne took advantage of a few errors and timely runs to win 15-10.
“The more aggressive team won,” Coach Cowan said. “We didn’t finish when we needed to finish.” With the loss, the Sagehens’ record dropped to 5-11 overall and 3-4 in conference play.
The Sagehens received strong individual performances from Aries, who logged 46 assists and 17 digs, and Leonard, with 30 digs. On offense, middle hitters Rachael Bollens PO ’13 and Kirea Mazzolini PO ’15 each had 11 kills.
The Sagehens will move to the second half of their conference schedule on Friday when they travel to Occidental, where they will look to get back on track and make up ground in the standings.