Photo by: Tony Leon/ActionWestPhotography.com
WHITTIER, Calif. – Tuesday night belonged to the Poet freshmen as the Whittier College Volleyball team threatened No. 21 Cal Lutheran University inside of the Graham Athletic Center.
At the conclusion of the evening the Purple & Gold fell in four sets 25-11, 28-26, 28-30, 6-25 and drop to 6-7, 3-2 SCIAC. Cal Lutheran improves to 10-6, 4-1 SCIAC.
The Poets got off to a slow start falling behind early and couldn't catch up as CLU hit 13-of-19 at a .632 clip winning the opening frame 25-11. This however didn't discourage the Purple & Gold as they battled back in the second earning three set points only to see them taken away by the amazing defensive unit of the Regals. During the second set Whittier put together four straight to go on top 17-15 capitalizing on two attacking errors and a ball handling miscue. But after a CLU timeout they would bounce back with four of the next five points to go back on top 19-18. After that it was back and forth with seven ties and two opportunities for WC but again down the stretch Cal Lutheran was able to win four of the final five points to edge the Poets 28-26 putting them in a 2-0 hole.
Whittier could have gone away after seeing opportunities slip through their grasp but they didn't and they pushed in the third set hitting .360 as a team combining for 22 kills with just four errors. The frame proved the most dramatic all season with neither team able to extend a lead more than two. Then when it counted down the stretch the offense shined on both sides. Deadlocked at 20-20, the game then went to seven ties with WC getting four set opportunities only to see them wiped out by CLU responding with nerves of steel. But in the end, the Poets prevailed getting a kill from Alaina Rhee (Kent, WA) and Hannah Joyce (Ladera Ranch, Calif.) pushing an attack back corner at 28-28 that proved the difference keeping WC in the match.
Hoping to carry that momentum into the 4th, Whittier was unable to keep it going as CLU jumped out in front 11-3 before securing the road victory with ten in a row midway through that swung the momentum back crushing the Poets comeback hopes.
Katelyn Popoff (Hacienda Heights, Calif.) led the offense with 10 kills, while hitting .296. She was joined by freshmen teammates Franki Piloto (Ontario, Calif.) with seven kills and a .227 clip and Kathea Schamblin (Bakersfield, Calif.) with four kills and six digs. Other support came from Makenzie Thieme (Corona, Calif.) with seven kills and four digs and Jazmyn Sudbrook-Johnson (Fremont, Calif.) who was huge up front with six kills, three digs and two block assists.
Camryn Purdom (Moreno Valley, Calif.) worked the front totaling 27 assists and six digs. Joyce was a huge reserve adding 14 assists and 11 digs and Haley Petruescu (La Mirada, Calif.) controlled the backrow with 14 digs, two assists, two kills and a service ace.
Whittier travels to take on the University of La Verne this Friday, September 28 beginning at 7:00pm. They then return home the very next day to host No. 3 Claremont-M-S inside of the Graham Athletic Center at 6:00pm.