It was following the game plan, but late leads in both the opening two sets didn't sustain as state No. 1-ranked and top seed host Irvine Valley College handed the #16 seed Pasadena City College women's volleyball team a Southern California Regional Round 1 playoff loss in three sets, 27-25, 25-22, 25-18, Tuesday night.
The Lancers, the 2-time South Coast Conference North Division champions, were eliminated and ended their season at 13-13 overall. The Lasers, the defending CCCAA State Champions, are 19-1 and headed to Round 2 v. #9 Ventura.
PCC had Irvine and its fans biting finger nails when it took leads of 16-11 and then 21-16. The Lasers roared back, but PCC responded with back-to-back kills by Leslie Rivera that gave the Lancers a 25-24 lead. But a kill by Irvine's Alaina Gendale and a ball-handling error gave the Lasers a 2-point set 1 win. In the second set, PCC went ahead, 5-1, then 13-11 and again at 18-17. IVC took a 23-22 lead and finished off the set on a Gendale kill and PCC attack error. In set 3, Irvine Valley grabbed a commanding 20-10 lead. This time, the Lancers rallied with a 7-1 run capped on a kill by Camille Ferguson.
However, the Lasers would finish off the sweep, but not without knowing how hard it was to knock off a scrappy 16th seed in the Lancers.
"Our team peaked at the right time this year, and we came out playing well v. Irvine Valley," said PCC head coach Mike Terrill. "Our players knew the game plan and we were able to put a lot of pressure on IVC early. Defensively, we were strong and we held them to their season low hitting percentage (.134) and lowest they have had in a match in two years. The first two sets were winnable, but unfortunately we weren't clicking offensively. Against a great team like Irvine, it was difficult to generate enough energy in the third set."
Overall, Rivera scored seven kills and made nine digs while Ferguson had six kills. Danielle Johnson again played well in the middle with five kills, four solo blocks and three assisted blocks. MB Jada O'Mally added five kills. Libero Pamela Galvan added 21 digs. Janell Currier served two aces. Irvine Valley was led by Alaina Gendale with 10 kills.
Terrill reflected on the team's season.
"I'm so proud of this team, this year included so many challenges and they just kept working," he said. "Our players continued improving week to week, worked hard to embody our core values and played with grit until the end. We ended our season with our heads held high, knowing we are capable of accomplishing anything we believe in."
Terrill is 2-2 in the postseason, having won Play-In Round matches in each of the last two years, including a sweep over #17 Mt. San Antonio on November 17.