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Poets upset No. 10 Trinity (TX) at CLU Invite

Poets upset No. 10 Trinity (TX) at CLU Invite

Photo by: Tony Leon/

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – The Whittier College Volleyball team wrapped up the Cal Lu Fornia Invitational Saturday in a big way, not only sweeping the competition on Day 2 but capping it off with an upset win over No. 10 Trinity (TX), the biggest upset in program history.

Whittier completes the clean sweep at the Invite going 4-0 and now improve to 6-2 on the season, getting off to the second best start under Head Coach Chris Duarte-McDermott.  Back in 2015, the Purple & Gold started off 6-1. 

Both match-ups on the day went the distance as Whittier would put together a comeback against Northwest powerhouse Whitworth University before holding on to take out West Region rival Trinity (TX).          

Game 1 (Whitworth; W, 25-19, 16-25, 15-25, 25-15, 15-7)

The Purple & Gold rallied from a two-sets-to-one deficit to defeat the Pirates in five.  Following a convincing first set win, the Poets found themselves in a hole 2-1 as Whitworth seemed to take control of the match.  But in the 4th, Whittier returned the favor with a lopsided 25-15 win before rolling off 10 of 11 points late in the 5th to complete the comeback victory.

Eight of those 10 points were served by junior Makenzie Thieme (Corona, Calif.) who finished with 17 kills on 47 attempts for a .298 hitting percentage.  She also added 11 digs and two service aces.

She again was joined by freshman Ashley Whittall (Norwalk, Calif.) who also added double digit kills with 16.  Camryn Purdom (Moreno Valley, Calif.), put together an impressive stat line with a career mark of 30 assists to go with 11 digs and a couple kills.

Alaina Rhee (Kent, WA) just missed double digit kills as she posted nine hitting .316 with a combined four blocks.  Clarissa Standafer (Alta Loma, Calif.) again led the back row holding the back-line strong with 25 digs but also chipped in with four assists and two services aces.         

Game 2 (No. 10 Trinity (TX); W, 20-25, 26-24, 25-15, 20-25, 16-14)

The No. 10 Ranked Tigers who were coming in with an impressive 6-1 record with quality wins over No. 23 Wisc.-Oshkosh, then No. 6 Cal Lutheran, No. 9 Claremont-M-S, and No. 11 Cal Lutheran for a second time found themselves fighting to stay in the match against the Poets.

In what proved to be a thriller, the Poets came back from a set down to put Trinity in a 2-1 hole before holding on to win 16-14 in the deciding set.  Whittier thwarted a late comeback in the 2nd by the Tigers.  They held a 24-21 lead but saw Trinity come back to tie things up but were able to stand strong as a service error and a kill by Whittall would deadlock the match at 1-1.

The Poets kept the momentum going in the 3rd dominating Trinity in all aspects as they would race out to a 22-9 lead at on point.  The Tigers attempted to come back with five straight but two kills by Thieme and Rhee would stop the comeback giving WC a 2-1 advantage.

In the 4th, Trinity rebounded hitting .361, which forced the decisive set despite Whittier pulling within one at 21-20.  But the Tigers would rattle off the next four points that leveled the match. 

Whittier jumped out in front in the 5th at 12-8 capped off with kills from Thieme and Rhee.  But this lead soon diminished as Trinity stormed back with six in a row to take their first lead at 14-12.  Facing a match-point, the Poets rose to the occasion as Purdom would find the court for her biggest kill of her career, which sparked a 4-0 run giving the Poets the upset win. 

Thieme had the match of the season putting up 22 kills, hitting .264.  Whittall followed with 11 kills and Jazmyn Sudbrook-Johnson (Fremont, Calif.) added seven herself to hit .263.  Purdom finished with 25 assists and 14 digs and Hannah Joyce (Newport Beach, Calif.) teamed up with her with 15 assists and nine digs. 

Standafer and Katie Engle (Whittier, Calif.) also registered double digit digs with 15 and 10, each respectively.    

Whittier returns to the Graham Athletic Center this Tuesday, September 12 as they host Pomona-Pitzer at 7:00pm in their SCIAC and home opener.