For the second year in a row, the Pasadena City College women's badminton team clinched a state title by the end of the third round of play, defeating Fresno City College, 16-5, Thursday in the CCCAA championship match played at San Diego City College. It was the third straight year that the Lancers and Rams met in the finals with PCC winning the rubber match.
The Lancers completed their second undefeated season in a row, both at 13-0. PCC will have a 26-match win streak heading into the 2019 season. Pasadena became just the fifth different college to win two or more state team titles and is the first back-to-back champion since De Anza in 2013-2014. This is just the third state team title in PCC women's athletics history dating back to when intercollegiate championships for women were recognized/recorded in 1977. The only other remains the 2009 women's basketball team.
PCC, the South Coast Conference and SoCal champions, had some tough battles in the early rounds, but prevailed in each of the close matches. Lancers' No. 4 player Jessica Lee rallied from a set down to beat Fresno's No. 3 Amy Vang, 21-23, 21-16, 21-14. PCC had a 4-2 lead after the first round. In doubles, Lee's match was the only one left playing as she teamed with Xiaoming Yao in #2 doubles to edge the Rams' top pair of Soua Kong-Bao Vang, 18-21, 21-17, 21-8. The 2-point swing to the Lancers allowed Pasadena to take an 8-3 advantage.
In the third round, second singles, the Lancers again showed their dominance in the upper ladder with the second victory each for No. 1 Natalie Ong, No. 2 Amy Huang, Yao at No. 3 and Lee. PCC had scored 12 points and clinched the state title before the fourth round (second doubles) again for the second consecutive season. Last year, the Lancers had clinched at 11-5 and settled for an 11-10 team victory.
In all, Pasadena swept the No. 1 and No. 2 doubles behind Ong-Huang, returning individual doubles All-Americans, and Lee-Yao.
Fresno (9-1) was led by its bottom ladder as #5 Payao Vue and #6 Stephanie Tran each won two singles matches and combined to win No. 3 doubles.
"We felt like we were a stronger team than last year," said Huang, who along with Ong were the only returning PCC players from the '17 state title team. "We kind of built our confidence during the season from our coach who is always stressing the positive. We had a really good camaraderie because most of our players were at the same level. We all supported each other."
Ho, who has built a mini dynasty at PCC with two state team titles and four straight undefeated South Coast Conference championships, said, "I really felt we were going to win going into this one. Last year, I just wasn't sure how it would play out. Our top four players played well today. Before the season, we lost our No. 1 player so I wasn't sure if that would hurt us. Instead, Jessica and Xiaoming far exceeded my expectations and were big keys in both the SoCal final and in this state championship match."
PCC's roster included No. 5 player Grace Bajar, No. 6 Asiana Pitackul, No. 3 doubles Mikaella Reamico, and reserves Pinky Cheung and Quynh Trinh. All received state medals for the team's accomplishment. Assistant coach Preline Bonafacio served many roles for the Lancers under Coach Ho.
CCCAA STATE TEAM FINAL BOX SCORE
PASADENA CITY 16, FRESNO CITY 5
#1 Natalie Ong (PAS) d. #2 Linda Vue (FRE), 21-5, 21-4
#2 Amy Huang (PAS) d. #1 Soua Kong (FRE), 21-14, 21-17
#3 Xiaoming Yao (PAS) d. #4 Bao Vang (FRE), 21-5, 21-9
#4 Jessica Lee (PAS) d. #3 Amy Vang (FRE), 21-23, 21-16, 21-14
#5 Payao Vue (FRE) d. #6 Asiana Pitackul (PAS), 21-9, 21-8
#6 Stephanie Tran (FRE) d. #5 Grace Bajar (PAS), 21-19, 21-17
Pasadena leads 4-2
#1 Ong-Huang (PAS) d. #2 L.Vue-A.Vang, 21-3, 21-11
#2 Lee-Yao (PAS) d. Kong-B. Vang, 18-21, 21-17, 21-8
#3 P. Vue-Tran (FRE) d. Bajar-Mikaella Reamico, 21-8, 21-12
Pasadena leads 8-3
Ong (PAS) d. Kong (FRE), 21-11, 21-14
Huang (PAS) d. L. Vue (FRE), 27-25, 21-14
Yao (PAS) d. A. Vang (FRE), 21-11, 17-21, 21-18
Lee (PAS) d. B. Vang (FRE) 21-18, 21-19
P. Vue (FRE) d. Bajar (PAS), 21-8, 21-14
Tran (FRE) d. Pitackul (PAS), 21-9, 21-11
Pasadena clinches 12-5
Ong-Huang (PAS) d. Kong-B. Vao (FRE), 21-13, 21-8
Lee-Yao (PAS) d. L. Vue-A. Vang (FRE), 21-14, 21-16
Pasadena wins 16-5