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Volleyball Perfect at La Verne Invite

Volleyball Perfect at La Verne Invite

Photo by: Tony Leon/

LA VERNE, Calif. – The Whittier College Volleyball team wrapped up their week in impressive fashion finishing a perfect 5-0, which included a solid 4-0 effort at the La Verne Invite.

Over the two-day invite, the Purple & Gold surrendered just one set outscoring their opponents 12-1.  On Day 1 they swept DeSales and UC Santa Cruz before wrapping up the invitational sweeping Mass.-Boston and holding off Nazareth in four.

Whittier has now won five in a row and six of their last seven as they improve to 12-8, 5-3 SCIAC.  They also finish their non-conference schedule for 2018 posting a 7-5 mark.   

Match 1 (DeSales; W, 25-18, 25-23, 25-21) 

The Poets capitalized on 15 hitting errors by the Bulldogs over the first two sets to jump out in front and then hit .370 in the final frame that put the match out of reach.

Makenzie Thieme (Corona, Calif.) had a big appearance to start off the Invite and DeSales had no response as she totaled 14 kills on 39 attempts for a .205 clip.  She also added eight digs, two assists, and a service ace. 

Freshman Katelyn Popoff (Hacienda Heights, Calif.) added nine kills with 11 digs and had support from lefty Aubrey Caires (Gardnerville, NV) who also added nine kills on 15 attempts for a career high .600 hitting percentage.  The final Poet who had a big game was Jazmyn Sudbrook-Johnson (Fremont, Calif.) who chipped in with eight kills.

Up front, Camryn Purdom (Moreno Valley, Calif.) finished with a double double of 13 assists and 21 digs and had help from Hannah Joyce (Ladera Ranch, Calif.) who got the majority of time in the setting position totaling 17 assists and eight digs.  Haley Petruescu (La Mirada, Calif.) led the backrow and added 11 assists and 17 digs as the libero.

Whittier led big early 13-5 but saw the Bulldogs come back to cut the deficit to four at 14-10.  They got within three late but couldn't get closer than that as a 5-0 run to end the first would put WC on top.  In the second, DeSales provided a tough match-up pulling within one on two different occasions midway through.  Whittier looked to secure the frame leading 24-21 but DeSales pushed with two straight that put some pressure on the Poets.  But in the end, Petruescu was able to pick up a kill that put the Bulldogs in a hole.

In the third, DeSales put together 15 kills en route to hitting .310 but that offensive performance wouldn't be enough as WC would string together five unanswered late that opened up the final set at 19-16.  Thieme made the score 24-18 later and after a couple points by DeSales, Caires was able to secure the sweep with a kill.               

Match 2 (UC Santa Cruz; W, 26-24, 25-23, 25-21)

The second match on the day the Poets had a tough opponent in UC Santa Cruz but were able to push through with the clean sweep.  UCSC jumped all over the Purple & Gold 10-4 in the first set and would then lead by six on three different occasions but WC would weather the storm and rally with a 10-3 run capitalizing on seven Banana Slug miscues to go on top 20-19. 

Popoff then stretched the Poet lead with back-to-back service aces and then Caires would connect followed by a Petruescu ace that pushed the score to 24-21.  UCSC though battled back with three straight that tied things up but soon after Thieme and Sudbrook-Johnson would secure the first set with kills.

In the second, UCSC again jumped out in front this time 12-8 but WC again would rally this time with a 9-4 run capped off with two service aces by Popoff that gave Whittier an 18-16 lead.  From there the Poets didn't look back as they continued to roll with another four points that gave them a 22-16 advantage.  UCSC tried one last attempt putting together five straight to pull within one at 24-23 but again Thieme would respond secure the second with another kill.

In the third, it was all Whittier carrying the momentum from the first two sets.  They jumped out quickly 10-4 but again would see UC Santa Cruz rally to pull within two at 18-16.  Whittier would go on to win four of the next five points to stretch their advantage to five and would pick up the sweep behind kills from Caires and Thieme.

Thieme finished with 13 kills on 29 attempts hitting .379.  Popoff added six kills, five service aces and five digs and Sudbrook-Johnson chipped in with seven kills and two block assists.  Purdom and Serena Alvarez (La Habra, Calif.) shared the setting duties.  Purdom finished with 13 assists and 11 digs, while Alvarez added 15 assists and eight digs.

Petruescu again led the back row with 17 digs and added six assists and three service aces.     

Match 3 (Mass.-Boston; W, 25-20, 25-17, 25-20)

On day two action the Poets kept the momentum going with a strong effort against Mass.-Boston with their third straight clean sweep.  It was all Whittier early leading 11-4 and then 14-6 in the first set.  The Beacons though would rally with seven in a row that pulled them within one at 14-13.  After a service error Whittier used it to spark a run of their own winning five of the next six points to stretch the lead back to five.  Then to end the first, Joyce and Thieme would combo for three kills that put WC on top. 

In the second, Whittier used seven unanswered to lead 15-8 and didn't look back as they would use three Beacon errors and kills by Alaina Rhee (Kent, WA) and Sudbrook-Johnson to put Mass.-Boston in a 2-0 hole.

Then in the third, despite trailing 16-15, the Poets were able to shut the door winning seven of the final nine points, which included six Beacon errors.  Thieme hit double digits with 10 kills on 28 attempts.  Sudbrook-Johnson provided a five kill effort and Popoff, Caires, and Rhee would each tally four a piece.  Popoff also added 12 digs.  Up front Purdom totaled 16 assists with nine kills and had a career high seven service aces.  Petruescu again led the back row this time providing a 13 dig effort.             

Match 4 (Nazareth; W, 23-25, 25-20, 25-14, 28-26)

After three straight clean sweeps the Poet surrendered their first set of the invite to Nazareth to end the two days but still was able to pull off the win in four sets. 

The Golden Flyers looked to be in control in the first set going on top 19-11 but saw that lead evaporate as Whittier would storm back to pull within one at 24-23.  But in the end Nazareth was able to secure the next point to put WC in an early hole.

This lead would soon be short-lived as Whittier would pull things together to take the next three sets, which included a tight 28-26 fourth-set.  Popoff led the offense with 16 kills and seven digs.  Thieme provided yet another double digit performance with 14 kills and 11 digs and Sudbrook-Johnson came in to provided six kills. 

Purdom finished with 26 assists and 10 digs along with another seven service ace effort and Joyce put together a 20 assist and seven dig effort.  Petruescu again added double digit digs with 18.     

Whittier returns to Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) action this week as they travel to take on Caltech this Tuesday, October 9 beginning at 7:00pm.