Volleyball goes 3-1 at CLU Invite

Volleyball goes 3-1 at CLU Invite

Photo by: Tony Leon/ActionWestPhotography.com

Article by: Abby Salmon (Sports Information Intern)

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – The Whittier College Volleyball team completed their weekend going 3-1 at the Cal Lu Fornia Invitational beating Centenary (LA), Colby-Sawyer, and UC Santa Cruz. 

The Purple & Gold bounced back from their 0-4 start and are now 3-5. 

The Poets were able to come out with two wins boding a good start to this weekend. They opened with a battle against Centenary before ending the night against Colby-Sawyer.

Centenary (W, 25-21, 24-26, 25-17, 25-16)

Whittier opened up the CLU Invite with a solid 3-1 win over Centenary (LA).  Katelyn Popoff (Hacienda Heights, Calif.) and Franki Piloto (Ontario, Calif.) led the match in kills with 17 each. Jazmyn Sudbrook-Johnson (Fremont, Calif.) contributed with nine kills as did Alaina Rhee (Kent, WA) with seven. Makayla Wright (Covina, Calif.) led the Purple & Gold with a total of 30 assists and 21 digs on the match in her breakout game of her career.

WC held Centenary to negative hitting in all four sets.  Marissa Montoya (Glendora, Calif.) despite being held without a kill was able to pick up 13 digs, while Popoff contributed with 17 and Katie Engle (Whittier, Calif.) with 10.   

Colby-Sawyer (W)

It was a quick sweep for the Poets over Colby-Sawyer in game two of the CLU Invite.  It was a balanced attack with Popoff leading the charge with eight kills.  Rhee, Piloto and Kathea Schamblin (Bakersfield, Calif.) each recorded seven a piece with Rhee putting up five blocks.  Wright was again strong up front with 18 assists and split time with Serena Alvarez (La Habra, Calif.) who added 11.  Popoff had eight digs and Wright registered five service aces.    

UC Santa Cruz (W, 19-25, 25-18, 27-25, 20-25, 18-16)

While the first few points of game one stayed close, Santa Cruz began to pull ahead 12-7. A mis-serve from Santa Cruz and back to back kills from Sudbrook-Johnson began to close the gap making the score 12-10 with WC still behind. After that, Santa Cruz began to pull ahead again and Whittier consistently trailed behind their opponents, unable to come within two points of them. Two kills in a row from Santa Cruz gave them the first set 25-19.

In the second set, Whittier gained an early lead of 10-5 obtained by kills from Piloto, Popoff and Sudbrook-Johnson. But back to back errors from WC helped allow Santa Cruz to close in 12-10. Later on in the game, Whittier went on top with a 24-17 lead and Rhee closed it out with a kill. 

Once again, set three starts off as both teams were tied 7-7. A kill from Haley Petruescu (La Mirada, Calif.) and a service ace from Wright gave Whittier a two point lead. Santa Cruz continued to battle which led to the score being tied yet again at 24-24. Ultimately, it was Whittier that came out on top with the set as Abby Salmon (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.) would clinch it at 27-25 with an ace. 

UC Santa Cruz managed to tie up the match after the fourth set. Both teams continued to go back and forth until the score read 7-6 Whittier, after which UCSC went on a six point run to pull ahead at 13-7 Santa Cruz. Later on in the set, WC tried to comeback from being down 23-18 and win out the set with Schamblin going on a three point serving run. This comeback was cut short as Santa Cruz got back to back kills to close out set four.

In the final fifth set, things begin to look uncertain for the Purple & Gold as UC Santa Cruz pulled ahead 10-5. As the score reached game point for Santa Cruz, Whittier sides out with a kill from Piloto and goes on a four point serving run with Schamblin on the back line putting them ahead 15-14. Both teams continued to go back and forth until an attacking error from UCSC puts the score at 18-16 with Whittier pulling out the five-setter. 

Popoff led the team in kills with a total of 22 while Schamblin also contributed with 16. Engle led the back row with 30 digs and Wright had 38 assists on the match.

Texas Lutheran (L, 25-22, 25-18, 25-19)

Whittier looked to go undefeated on the weekend but fell short in their three set match against Texas Lutheran. The match started off close in the first half of set one but once the score was 17-15 with Whittier just trailing behind, TLU began to increase their lead and reached game point before Whittier even hit 20. WC didn't go down easy though as Sudbrook-Johnson got a kill, which allowed Wright to go on a serving run and get the score to 22-24. The comeback would stall though as a kill from Texas Lutheran's Madison Weisinger, would give them the opening frame.   

In sets two and three, Texas Lutheran maintained leads for a majority of the rest of the match. They managed to pull ahead and win set two 25-18 and similarly won set three 25-19. Once again, Popoff led the team in kills with 11 and Engle led with 12 digs. 

Whittier returns to the court this weekend, September 13-14, where the Poets will have their third and final tournament weekend of the season at the University of La Verne for the La Verne Invitational. There they will face Pacific Lutheran, UC Santa Cruz, and Puget Sound.