The Pomona-Pitzer volleyball team has been busy, playing four matches in two days. The Sagehens struggled at times but finished strong, logging consecutive wins over Caltech and Redlands.
On Tuesday night, the Sagehens capped their winning ways with a strong three-set victory over Redlands, jumping out to an early lead. P-P took the first set 25-15, then held on to take two tight sets 25-22 and 25-23.
“We played well,” Jordan Hammond PO ’12 said. “It was fun to win again. Last time [against Redlands] we started slowly, but today, we were better.”
Ellen Yamasaki PZ ’15 had a triple-double, with ten kills, ten digs, and 15 assists. Kirea Mazzolini PO ’15 also turned in a good performance, with seven kills and a game high of four blocks.
The Sagehens played four games in two days starting last Friday, first facing off against conference foe Whittier College. Late kills by outside hitter Sophie Tweed-Simmons PO’13 helped the Sagehens take the first set 25-22, but the Poets used a late run to take the second set 25-16. The third and final sets were close, but Whittier took advantage of its efficient attack and some Sagehen errors to take the match with set scores of 25-23 and 25-21.
Mazzolini led the Sagehens with a career high 12 kills, and Leonard led all players with 22 digs, but Whittier had fewer errors and a more consistent attack that ultimately gave them the advantage.
Later Friday night, the Sagehens hosted a fish-out-of-water New York University squad, which was making its first stop on a three-match California tour. The Sagehens started slowly, dropping the first set 25-15, but rebounded to take the second set 25-19. NYU used its fresher legs to turn up the pressure in the final two sets, which featured both teams at a high level of play. In the end, a few NYU runs made the difference as they took the final two sets 25-19 and 25-17.
Tweed-Simmons led Pomona with 13 kills, and Rachel Bollens PO ’13 had a match high of six blocks.
Yamasaki did an admirable job filling in at setter all weekend and had 33 assists against NYU. Kenzie Aries PZ ’12 and Dani Kritter PO ’15, P-P’s usual setters, were both out with concussions. Leonard explained that such injuries are not unheard of in volleyball.
“You see them a lot, actually,” Leonard said. “We spent a lot of time earlier in the year practicing rolling when we dive.”
Yamasaki’s play was even more impressive considering she had very little experience at setter before.
“Ellen had never really practiced at setter,” Hammond said. “She had played a little bit in an earlier tournament, but never in a conference game. So we’d never practiced hitting off her.” Yamasaki now has over 200 kills, assists, and digs on the year. Kritter was able to return to play for the Redlands game, allowing Yamasaki to move back to outside.
On Saturday, the Saghens started play with a home match against Chapman. The Sagehens took the first set 25-22, notching 15 kills against just six assists. Chapman took the next two sets behind a strong attack and had a 19-11 lead in the final set before the Sagehens came back to within two points. However, they were unable to complete the comeback, losing 25-20. Leonard led all players with 30 digs.
The Sagehens finished their weekend with an easy win over an overmatched Caltech team. They held the Beavers without a kill in the first set and committed only three errors all match. Leonard finished with 14 digs, enough to pass Heather Pilatic’s P-P career digs record. Leonard finished the weekend with 1,832 career digs.
The Sagehens will wrap up their conference schedule with matches against La Verne and Cal Lutheran. At 5-7 in SCIAC, the Sagehens know that they have a difficult path ahead of them to make the conference tournament, but they welcome the competition.
“I’m looking forward to our last two games,” Leonard said. “They’re probably the two best teams in the conference, so they’ll be a challenge.”