Sagehens Lose in First Round, Say Goodbye to Seniors

The Pomona-Pitzer women’s volleyball team touched down in San Antonio, ready to take on the University of Texas, Dallas Comets in their first game of the Division III Regionals tournament last week, but it was to be a short run as the Hens fell to UT Dallas in four games. The loss brought P-P’s final record to 20-9.

Allie Frappier PO ’15 earned four of P-P’s first five points with kills as the match opened, but the Hens soon slipped behind as the Comets scored six in a row. Kelli Derrah PO ’17 slammed a pair of kills, 9-12, but Dallas used back-to-back blocks to go ahead further, 12-18. Sam Cahill PO ’15 notched a solo block, and Michelle Schultz PO ’15 and Frappier added a few more kills, but the Comets stayed ahead and took game one 25-18.

“We left everything we had on the court … I’m so proud of [our] heart, effort, and energy,” Ellen Yamasaki PZ ’15 said.

Yamasaki started the second game with back-to-back kills. Not to be outdone, Schultz and Frappier each added a pair of their own. Down 5-7, the Comets soon made a comeback with a five-point streak, prompting a P-P timeout. The score continued to grow closer as a kill from Dallas’s outside hitter Taylour Toso made it 13-9, a Kirea Mazzolini PO ’15 kill made it 14-12, and two kills from Yamasaki in response to Comets kills kept it within two. Elizabeth Sun PO ’17 served up an ace, and Cahill slammed another kill to tie up the game. The Comets took a timeout, but the lead continued to bounce back and forth. A block from Cahill and Derrah put the Hens ahead, 19-18, and though the Comets scraped up a few points, Yamasaki ‘s kill tied it up again at 23. After another Comets timeout, a Cahill kill tied it at 24, and then with the score tied at 25, Schultz and Frappier had back-to-back kills to win the game and tie the match up 1-1.

NCAA tournaments require 10-minute breaks before the third game; after resting, both teams resumed play as if it was still match point.

The Hens fought their way ahead, 5-3, but were quickly tied up at five and six. Cahill helped on two blocks and added a kill, 9-6, and a few Comet attack errors made it 11-9.  Yamasaki and Schultz each knocked in a couple kills, but the Hens started to fall behind—the biggest point difference of the game had been four. Another ace from Sun made it 16-18, and the Comets scored six in a row to go ahead in the match 2-1.

The Hens started behind in the fourth game, 1-4, but bounced back, quickly tying it up at six, and then used Frappier’s six kills of the game to grab the lead, 15-11. Dallas called a time out, and P-P coach Valerie Cowan soon followed suit as the Comets grabbed three in a row. A block from Frappier and Mazzolini kept the Hens ahead 17-14, but with a cost—Frappier went back to the bench to stretch again for the duration of the game. She did not return. The Comets used a key block and a few kills to tie the score at 19, but Schultz came through with a powerful kill, 20-19. Derrah added another kill, 21-22, but Dallas surged ahead and won the match.

Beth Smilkstein PO ’14 had 23 digs in her last collegiate match, and Yamasaki and Schultz both finished with 10 kills. Schultz had 20 digs, and Dani Kritter PO ’15 and Sun both had 20 assists.

Frappier sat out a majority of the third and fourth games trying to stretch out her leg, an injury that has plagued her all season. Despite her time on the bench, Frappier had 17 kills, which gave her a grand total of 507 on the season. She’s the second Hen in school history to reach 500. She is still behind Joanne Nielson PO ’90, who holds the season record at 540. Frappier leads the nation in kills per set, at 5.96, and had 294 digs in the season. As such, on Tuesday it was announced that she had been named a First-Team All-American by the American Volleyball Coaches Association.

Although the Sagehens hate saying goodbye to Smilkstein and Nicole Bauthier PO ’14, it is also exciting to look ahead to next season: Frappier returning in full health, four other seniors including Kirea Mazzolini PO ’15 (97 blocks) and Yamasaki (180 kills), and a talented sophomore class with a year of experience under its belt, especially Derrah (138 kills in the season) and Sun (516 assists). 

“It was fun bringing so many new superstars into the world of PPVB, and I’m excited to see what they do in the future,” Smilkstein said, summarizing the season.

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