Volleyball Down, Up And Out At Pierce Invitational
One way to describe the Pasadena City College women's volleyball team thus far this season is unpredictable. Case in point is the Lancers' performance at the 4th Los Angeles Pierce College Invitational held Sept. 27-28.
The No. 25 Lancers (2-7) pushed state No. 3-ranked Golden West to the brink, but lost in five sets in the opening round. The 18-25, 25-15, 25-8, 23-25, 15-11 defeat was the third time in a week's span that PCC stretched a highly-ranked Orange Empire Conference team to five games.
PCC trailed 23-20 in the fourth set, but rallied with five straight points to send it to the deciding fifth game. Sophomore outside hitter Nora To'omalatai pounded 19 kills and hit .459 in the match. The Lancers recorded 12 aces, four each by letterman setter Tiffany Roesler (and 35 assists), and freshman middle blocker Angela Banuelos (and six kills). Sophomore outside hitter Thula Parks made 10 kills.
On Saturday, the Lancers upended No. 11-rated Bakersfield, sweeping the Renegades, 25-17, 25-21, 25-21. To'omalatai contributed 18 kills while Parks added nine kills. First-year middle blocker Kendra Logan had four kills and three blocks.
At that point, PCC seemed poised to play well in the consolation title match v. host Pierce, unranked but still the three-time, defending CCCAA state champions. In a deja vu moment from a year ago when the Lancers were bounced in the third round of the Southern California Regionals, PCC again was swept by the Brahmas, 25-18, 25-19, 25-18.
Pasadena totaled a paultry 21 kills (eight by To'omalatai) and had a tough defensive match with a season-low 15 digs.
"Hard to believe we can go from the ugly v. Golden West to the good v. Bakersfield to the bad v. Pierce," said PCC interim head coach Bill Sanchez, who feels his team has to find consistency if it hopes to battle for the South Coast Conference title.
"We're right there in terms of competing with some of the best teams in the state. But we have to learn how to finish a team off, which we could not accomplish against Golden West. It was terrific to go five sets with last year's state runner-up, but we were up 1-0 and then fell behind with a truly poor third game. We fought back with a great rally in the fourth, and then we go into bad habits in the fifth. The team gets its confidence back with a nice victory over Bakersfield, and then we simply couldn't gain any kind of momentum in the Pierce loss."
Sanchez says his team has to look forward to SCC play as the Lancers start their 14-match league schedule on Friday, October 4 at LA Harbor College.
"The SCC is going to be a test of how to stay consistent v. some stronger teams while realizing we have to maintain intensity against some of the weaker squads" Sanchez said. "Can we stay focused enough to not just win matches, but play well. This is a sport where you can sweep someone and look bad doing it, but that's not going to help you in the playoffs. We're capable of being a better team than we performed at Pierce. If we show improvement, only good things will happen for us in the conference race."
[Photo--Kendra Logan (9) powers a kill through a three-player Bakersfield wall at the net during PCC's win Saturday at the Pierce Invitational in Woodland Hills, image by Richard Quinton, sports information photographer.]