Photo by: Tony Leon/ActionWestPhotography.com
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – The Whittier College Volleyball team sparked the Cal Lu Fornia Invitational Friday with a sweep over Pacific Lutheran and UC Santa Cruz not dropping a set over the two games.
Game 1 (Pacific Lutheran; W, 28-26, 25-21, 25-20)
The Poets' defensive unit proved huge in the first match of the Cal Lu Fornia Invitational limiting the high powered Lutes to a mere .088 hitting percentage and holding everyone to single kill efforts.
Whittier totaled 28 blocks for the game up front led by Alaina Rhee (Kent, WA) who posted a career high 10 blocks (9 Assist/1 Solo). She was joined by Aubrey Caires (Garnderville, NV) and Ashley Whittall (Norwalk, Calif.) who both added four blocks apiece.
Behind this front, the Lutes found it difficult to stop the offensive attack by the Poets as Makenzie Thieme (Corona, Calif.) put up 12 kills, while Whittall registered a career and season high 16 kills on 32 attempts for a .375 hitting percentage. Thieme also had 11 digs, while Clarissa Standafer (Alta Loma, Calif.) posted 20 digs in the back row.
The first set proved crucial as Whittier saw themselves fight back and null set points at 24-23 and then again at 25-24 to win four of the next five points capped off with a service ace by Rhee.
In the second it was close early but WC managed to pull away midway through with four unanswered that opened the game up at 19-13. This lead would prove enough as the Poets would hold on to go up by two.
In the third, Whittier put their foot down quickly putting together six straight, while winning 11 of 14 points to go in front 18-9, which was enough to put away Pacific Lutheran.
Game 2 (UC Santa Cruz; W, 25-21, 25-18, 25-22)
The match line might show a sweep but it was a battle throughout as the Purple & Gold had to grind out the victory edging the Banana Slugs 25-21 in set one, which proved crucial as they would battle in the second and third.
Junior Thieme led all hitters with 13 kills to go with 13 digs. She was joined by Whittall who also posted double digit kills with 10 on 32 attempts for a .281 hitting percentage.
Purdom posted 22 assists with 10 digs and Standafer proved huge in the back row with 20 digs. The first set was close throughout but in the end WC was able to win four of the final six points, which included a pair of kills from Thieme that gave them an early lead.
In the second the Poets had to play catch-up as they trailed by five early 11-6. But that deficit was soon erased as Whittier fought back to tie things up at 17-17, before rolling off eight of the next nine points to put UCSC in a hole.
The third remained close as well but the Purple & Gold didn't let up as Rhee, Alexis Mills (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.), and Jazmyn Sudbrook-Johnson (Fremont, Calif.) would combo in the end to put away the Banana Slugs.