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Women's Volleyball Rallies To Upset OCC in 5; Face No. 1 LA Pierce Tuesday

The No. 5-seeded  Pasadena City College women’s volleyball team rallied from down 2-0 in sets and fought off match point in the fifth game to upset No. 4 seed Orange Coast College, 19-25, 22-25, 25-15, 25-17, 16-14, in round 2 of the Southern California Regional Playoffs Saturday night in Costa Mesa.

Women's Volleyball Rallies To Upset OCC in 5; Face No. 1 LA Pierce Tuesday image

The South Coast Conference co-champion Lancers (21-4) trailed 14-13 in the fifth set, but after a timeout called by head coach Tammy Silva, outside hitter Viridiana Gallardo ripped a kill to tie it. Middle blocker Megan Callen made a solo block to give the Lancers the lead before Orange Coast’s All-State outside hitter Karlee Riggs sent a powerful attempt long for match point.


In the epic fifth set, OCC jumped ahead 8-5, but PCC responded with a 4-0 run capped by a combined block by Callen and setter Kailey Faust to take a 9-8 lead. The set featured nine ties and six lead changes.


The comeback victory avenged the only time Pasadena had been swept this year when OCC won a non-conference match back in September. Despite 31 kills in an incredible 90 attempts by Riggs, the Pirates finished the year at 19-3.


PCC advances to Round 3 of the regionals on Tuesday, Nov. 27 against two-time defending state champion Los Angeles Pierce, a sweep winner over No. 8 El Camino. Pierce is the state’s No. 1-ranked team and has won 62 consecutive matches dating back to 2010. Tuesday's regional final begins at 7 p.m. at the Pierce gym.


“It just looked like we were done after losing the second game,” Silva said. “But we stayed with our strategy to tire out Riggs, trying to serve and attack her as much as we could. Then we stepped up with our blocking and defense. The fifth set was a nail biter, but we maintained our cool. The whole team came together. It's the greatest win in my coaching career."


Faust set a PCC season-high and school playoff record 62 assists and served three aces while libero Jennifer Estrada made a Lancers’ season-high 31 digs. Nora To’omalatai led the attack with 19 kills (hit .469) while All-State middle blocker Jackie Valle-Acosta recorded 14 kills (.500 hitting percentage) and six blocks. Callen added nine kills and another Lancers’ season-high with eight blocks (five solos).


Opposite Yanise Joseph contributed 13 kills, including three early in the fifth set. Gallardo had a double-double with 12 kills and 11 digs. Defensive specialist Cassandra Delacruz has become a cog off the bench as she made 11 digs and starting rotation DS Briana Hilton totaled nine digs.


In set 1, PCC made 12 unforced errors, including five service mistakes to help Orange Coast take a 1-0 lead. In game 2, Pasadena led 12-10, but OCC went on a 10-3 run capped by a Riggs kill to take a 20-15 advantage. PCC averted two set points, but fell at 25-22 on a kill by Dana Nicholson.


In the third game, Orange Coast's offense was neutralized by the Lancers as the Pirates made more attack errors than kills (six to five). Meanwhile, PCC jumped out to a 6-2 lead before OCC sliced it to 13-11. Valle-Acosta pounded two kills and Faust twirled two aces during a 12-4 spurt that capped set 3 and brought PCC the momentum. 


In the fourth set, the Lancers again jumped out in front, 3-0, and never trailed. Leading 13-10, PCC scored five straight points, including two blocks and a kill by Valle-Acosta to take a commanding 8-point lead. To'omalatai was credited with a kill for set point on an Orange Coast net blocking error. 


When PCC faced match point, Silva said what she told her team during the timeout. 


"I just told them to stay calm, make a good pass, set, and land a kill. That's exactly what we did with Gallardo putting it home. Once we tied it, we got that last change of momentum. The players just played their hearts out, and deserved to win it."


PCC is going to the third round for the first time since 2010 when it was eliminated by Cypress in four games. If Pasadena upsets LA Pierce, it would advance to the CCCAA State Championship Tournament for the first time since 1995. 


Pasadena won for the first time this season when reaching a fifth set (1-2). Orange Coast was 0-2 in those type of matches. 


[Photo--PCC players cheer in jubilation moments after match point in their 5-set victory at Orange Coast College Saturday night, image by Richard Quinton, sports information photographer.]

11/25/12
Robert Lewis, Sports Information
phone: 626-585-7018, email: rmlewis@pasadena.edu