Photo by: Tony Leon/ActionWestPhotography.com
Article by: Abby Salmon (Sports Information Intern)
LA VERNE, Calif. - The Whittier College Volleyball team finished up their preseason yesterday on Day 2 of the La Verne Invitational. They pulled off the sweep, beating UC Santa Cruz in four sets and the University of Puget Sound in five, putting them 2-1 on the weekend.
Whititer improves to 5-6 and have now won five of their last seven.
UC Santa Cruz (W, 25-19, 20-25, 25-23, 25-17)
The Poets were able to pull off their second win in less than a week against the Banana Slugs, this time needing just four sets. Whittier was able to gain a small lead in the first half of set one with the help of Kathea Schamblin (Bakersfield, Calif.) and her three kills. UC Santa Cruz was then able to minimize the lead to two points and make the score 10-12 but that would be the closest they could get to the Purple & Gold as they charged ahead to their 25-19 win in set one.
UC Santa Cruz came right out of the gate in set two as they got off to a 4-0 lead. Whittier began to close the gap with the use of Katelyn Popoff (Hacienda Heights, Calif.) who got three kills in just five points, two of which were back to back. Unfortunately for the Poets, UC Santa Cruz maintained control throughout the rest of the set to close it out 25-20 with a block.
The third set was a battle on both sides of the net as the two teams took turns pulling ahead and catching up to the other. It wasn't until the score was tied 23-23 that Whittier was able to separate and close out the set with a two-point service run and a game-winning ace from Marissa Montoya (Glendora, Calif.).
In the fourth and final set, Popoff came out strong with three kills in Whittier's first 10 points. Katie Engle (Whittier, Calif.) also helped the Poets pull ahead to 10-5 with a four-point service run. Whittier was able to maintain the lead throughout the rest of the set until Popoff closed out the match with back-to-back kills.
Popoff led the team with 20 kills, Jazmyn Sudbrook-Johnson (Fremont, Calif.) added eight and Montoya with seven. Engle led the team in both service aces and digs with three and 20, respectively. Makayla Wright posted a double double with 25 assists and 17 digs.
University of Puget Sound (W, 25-17, 20-25, 17-25, 27-25, 15-11)
The Poets ended the Invite with an impressive five-set victory over Puget Sound. Within the early points of set one, Franki Piloto (Ontario, Calif.) quickly picked up a pair of kills for Whittier. The rest of the set the score remained close until Serena Alvarez (Hacienda Heights, Calif.) served seven in a row to get the Poets at set point 24-17. Before UPS had the chance to come back, Sudbrook-Johnson would pick up a kill to take WC to set two.
In both sets two and three, Puget Sound came back and limited the Purple & Gold under 20 points in each frame. After starting off set four down 3-0, Whittier put together a seven point run that consisted of kills from Popoff, Hana Abdullah (Walnut, Calif.), Valerie Van der Linden (Auburn, Calif.) and a block from Abdullah and Van der Linden. But this lead was short lived as UPS was able to quickly comeback to stay ahead for almost the rest of the set. It wasn't until Van der Linden went back to serve for four points that Whittier was put back into the lead at 24-23. With set four and the match on the line at 24-24, Montoya picked up a kill that brought WC to set point, which Abdullah put away to give Whittier the 26-24 set.
During the first half of the fifth set, Van der Linden tallied three kills while Montoya and Popoff also contributed with one kill each. Tied at eleven, Whittier picked up the next five points capped off with Montoya serving an ace, which handed WC the come from behind victory.
Popoff led the offense with 15 kills and six digs. Montoya registered 11 kills and 11 dogs and Piloto with eight kills and seven pick-ups. Wright led the front row with 29 assists, four service aces and 19 digs. Engle was solid in the back row adding 28 digs.
Whittier enters Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) this weekend. They travel to take on Caltech on Friday, September 20 (7:00pm) and then host Pomona-Pitzer on Saturday, September 21 at 6:00pm.