Photo by: Tony Leon/ActionWestPhotography.com
WHITTIER, Calif. – The Whittier College Poets and Pomona-Pitzer Sagehens squared off Friday night inside the Graham Athletic Center in an epic Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) showdown.
With playoff implications on the line, the Sagehens battled back from being down two sets to pull off the five-set thriller 21-25, 16-25, 25-20, 25-23, 15-9.
Whittier has now played eight five-setters on the year with this being the second coming against Pomona-Pitzer, while the Sagehens have played four five-setters in a row and are a perfect 7-0 in SCIAC matches that have gone the distance.
The Purple & Gold have now dropped two in a row and move to 14-10, 7-5 SCIAC, while Pomona-Pitzer improves to 12-12, 8-3 SCIAC.
The first two sets were all Whittier hitting .361 and .280 that put PP in an early hole. But the Sagehens were able to battle back putting on a defensive clinic over the final three sets to clinch the come from behind victory.
Makenzie Thieme (Corona, Calif.) led the offense with 17 kills and 12 digs along with three block assists. Freshman Franki Piloto (Ontario, Calif.) played major minutes with nine kills and three blocks and Katelyn Popoff (Hacienda Heights, Calif.) registered eight kills and eight digs. Jazmyn Sudbrook-Johnson (Fremont, Calif.) chipped in with seven kills and Alaina Rhee (Kent, WA) added a 6-for-12 effort with five block assists.
Camryn Purdom (Moreno Valley, Calif.) led the front row with a double digit effort with 28 assists and 14 digs and Hannah Joyce (Ladera Ranch, Calif.) came in reserve and finished with a 15 assist and 11 dig game. In the back row, Haley Petruescu (La Mirada, Calif.) had a big match posting a career high 30 digs with four assists and two service aces.
The Poets trailed early in the first set at 16-14 but swung the momentum behind a 6-1 run with four kills coming from Thieme. This gave WC a 20-17 advantage and they didn't let up finishing the frame off with Piloto delivering two big connections.
In the second, Whittier continued where they left off this time going on top quickly 12-5. But soon after PP countered with their own run winning 10 of the next 13 points to pull even at 15-15. Petruescu then picked up the momentum serving four times, which sparked five unanswered before Joyce finished things off with another four straight capping off a 10-1 run.
The Sagehens stormed back in the third holding the Poets to a .000 hitting percentage. Whittier kept it close throughout keeping it a one point set at 14-13 but an ensuing 7-1 spurt by PP would swing the advantage giving Pomona-Pitzer a 21-14 lead. A kill by Popoff and a pair of ball handling errors would pull WC within five but it wouldn't be enough as the Sagehens stayed alive winning the stanza.
The fourth set started like the third with the Sagehens going out on top 4-1. But this time the Poets would swing the lead at 10-6 following a 5-1 tear and kills by Popoff and Abby Salmon (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.). But the Sagehens were relentless winning seven of the next eight points to take a 13-11 lead. The frame remained a 1-2 point deficit the rest of the way with an attacking error and a kill by Kathea Schamblin (Bakersfield, Calif.) pulling Whittier at 24-23 but the very next point, Chloe Kerstein would secure it with a kill forcing a fifth.
The final frame Pomona-Pitzer rode their momentum using their defense to pull off the win. They jumped in front 6-3 and then gave up a service error keeping Whittier in it but after that the teams swapped points not allowing Whittier to make any headway.
Whittier returns to the court this evening, Saturday, October 20 in a battle against the Regals of Cal Lutheran University beginning at 6:00pm.