After a perfect 8-0 trip last year to win the South Coast Conference North Division, the Pasadena City College women's volleyball team is learning just how much tougher the conference race will be in 2018. Not only did the Lancers get upset by East Los Angeles in the SCC opener Wednesday, but top rival Mt. San Antonio also was upset in 3 by Rio Hondo. The other team in the division, Chaffey, which had a bye, is off to its best season start in several years.
The Lancers (5-9 overall) endured their sixth 5-set match in 14 contests this year, losing to the Huskies, 25-20, 16-25, 25-20, 15-25, 15-12. It marked the first time ELAC (7-7) beat PCC at Hutto-Patterson Gymnasium since 2006, a stretch of 11 straight losses at Pasadena. It also ended a 6-match win streak by the Lancers in the series between the conference colleges.
"The match was so hot and cold for us," said PCC head coach Mike Terrill. "I was happy with the way we bounced back from the set 1 and set 3 losses. At key moments, we made defensive adjustments and served tough, but the East LA middles kept scoring. We had some communication breakdowns that we can control better. ELAC is a talented, well-coached team. I can't wait until we get to play them at their place. Right now, we need to take the next step forward and be prepared to give Mt. SAC our best on Friday."
Both teams took control of the first two sets, neither relinquishing the lead. The first lead change for either team occurred in the third set (at 3-2 by PCC). Tied 12-12, the Huskies went on a 7-1 run. Pasadena raliled with a 4-0 spurt late in the set before a dump kill by ELAC setter Samantha Villareal gave the Huskies a 2-1 sets lead. In the fourth set, the Lancers trailed ealry at 9-8, but had their best streak of the match with a 10-2 scoring rally, capped by two aces from opposite Abby Martin for a 10-point, fourth set win.
In the fifth set, ELAC led 8-7 at the break, but the Lancers tied it at 10-10 on a kill by outside hitter Janell Currier. The Huskies' middle blocker Daija Walton had hurt the Lancers all match with booming line drive hits and she did it again with her 15th kill (in only 22 attempts) that regained the East LA lead for good. After a kill by outside hitter Camille Ferguson cut it to two, 14-12, the Lancers thought it had saved another match point on an attack by Martin, but the referee ruled the ball was not touched and went long to end the defeat. PCC is 3-3 in the five matches that have gone the distance.
Lancers middle blocker Danielle Johnson served seven of the team's 18 aces, including three straight late in set 2. Outside hitter Leslie Rivera, who even served as a setter in some of the team's rotation, finished with 14 kills, 18 digs, three assists and three aces. Ferguson had one of her best matches offensively in her two seasons with 14 kills (hit .303) and 12 digs. Martin added 11 kills (.357 kill percentage) and four aces. It's been setter by committee for PCC of late with five different players recording assists. Starter Tehya Topalian led the bunch with 24 assists, Nikkie Hernandez had 13, Heather Collado added five while libero Pamela Galvan (also 13 digs) and Rivera made three each.
PCC plays at Mt. San Antonio on Friday, Oct. 5 in a 6 p.m. conference contest.