Though the end results weren’t what they wanted, the Pomona-Pitzer volleyball team gave a gutsy, hard-fought performance last Tuesday, pushing the No. 5 team in the nation to the brink in a nail-biting five-game loss. With the tough loss to the California Lutheran University Regals, P-P volleyball falls to 6-4 overall on the season and 1-1 in SCIAC play.
The Regals took an early 9-6 lead in the first game of Tuesday night’s match, prompting P-P Coach Valerie Cowan to call a timeout shortly thereafter. The break in the action helped stem Cal Lutheran’s momentum. Upon resuming play, they scored three points in a row to tie up the game. Unfortunately, their momentum petered out and Cal Lu ended up with the win at 25-21.
The Sagehens started off on a better foot in the second game and took an early lead, but P-P had to resort to the time-out tactic once again as Cal Lu battled back to move ahead 12-11. Michelle Schultz PO ’16 and Allie Frappier PO ’15 combined for a string of kills to put P-P back on top, prompting Cal Lu to take its first time-out of the match. Continuing the pressure, the Hens added three more to stretch their lead to 20-15 but slipped after a four-point run from Cal Lu. Samantha Cahill PO ’15 and Schultz then notched clutch kills to keep the score tied at 22.
The crowd of 320 was electric as the score continued to ping-pong back and forth: a Frappier kill, then a Cal Lu kill from the back row to knot the game at 25. With the score tied up, the teams continued to push for extra points. Needing to win by a two-point margin to close the game, the Hens worked quickly. A block by Kelli Derrah PO ’17 gave P-P the go-ahead point and Cahill slammed her kill down for the thrilling 27-25 victory.
In the third game, Cal Lu again jumped out ahead despite some early forceful Frappier kills. Struggling to play catch up, P-P added a few more kills, but they had dug too deep of a hole for themselves and could not fend off the Regals any longer. Now down to 1-2 in the match, game four had the Hens with their backs against the wall, needing a win to continue the match.
P-P has proven itself to be a scrappy team both physically and mentally so far this season, and that certainly showed in the crucial fourth game. Though they were led by Frappier and company’s many kills, P-P’s touch kills and blocks devastated the Regals all match, and their “never say die” attitude, as described by Coach Cowan, kept them in the game down the stretch. Coach Cowan was also “very pleased with [their] scrappy defense and tough serving … both areas [that they] have been working on in practice.” Cal Lu again started out with the lead, but again, the Hens fought back hard. Down 17-13, they went on a three-point tear, with a crucial kill from Ellen Yamasaki PO ’15 putting them on top for the first time in the game, 20-19. After a Cal Lu time-out, the Schultz-Cahill duo at the net gave the Hens two blocks while two errors from the Regals finished off their five-point run, sending the match to its fifth game tie breaker.
In the decisive fifth game, P-P held a thin three-point cushion until a 6-1 Cal Lu run put the Regals on top. The Hens, however, thwarted the Regals’ run with a series of kills from Cahill, Yamasaki, and Frappier, leaving the score tied at 13. Having been on the receiving end of the touch kills all night, the Regals finally gave P-P a taste of their own medicine, tipping the ball right over the block, giving Cal Lu the lead and, more importantly, the match point. The intense energy heightened as the rally progressed for the decisive point, only to be cut abruptly by a back row violation, one of the worst and least satisfying ways to end a game, let alone a match. Despite the somewhat anticlimactic ending, it was an exciting match, with each game ending with a five-point margin or less.
Setter Elizabeth Sun PO ’17 racked up 39 assists for the Hens, and Yamasaki had nine kills. Frappier, though, continues to be the star for P-P. She came into the Tuesday’s match ranked number one in the nation in kills per set with 5.26, and proved yet again why she deserves that top spot. Frappier finished the night with 32 kills, the third time she has matched her personal high—which also happens to be the second highest single-match total in school history—in only ten matches.
Despite the loss, P-P was able to give the No. 5 team in the nation a run for its money—an encouraging sign for P-P’s remaining season. The Hens, 1-1 in SCIAC, have two conference matches scheduled for Saturday, playing Caltech at 1 p.m. and Occidental College at 6 p.m. in the Voelkel Gym.