PCC's Leslie Rivera Named State CCCWVCA Athlete of the Week #1

PCC's Leslie Rivera made the most of her first playing week in college by being named CCCWVCA State Athlete of the Week, photo by Richard Quinton.
PCC's Leslie Rivera made the most of her first playing week in college by being named CCCWVCA State Athlete of the Week, photo by Richard Quinton.

After an impressive collegiate debut in her first three matches, Pasadena City College women's volleyball freshman outside hitter Leslie Rivera was named the inaugural CCCWVCA State Athlete of the Week. Rivera was the SoCal selection while American River College's Savanah Smith was the NorCal choice.

Rivera recorded three double-doubles in kills and digs against three top 20 ranked teams from last year in Saddleback, Cypress and MiraCosta. She averaged 3.91 kills, 3.0 digs, and .91 aces per set. In Saturday's loss to Cypress, she scored 15 kills, 10 digs and twirled six aces with three blocks. She hit .520 with 14 kills in the season-opening victory over Saddleback on August 29. 

The 5-foot-5 Rivera is a product of Gabrielino High and did not play last year after performing as a Pasadena Star-News All-Area Second Team selection in her senior prep season.

As a team, the Lancers (1-2) played hard v. two perennially strong programs, but lost both matches in the team's PCC-host Quad #1 tourney played on Saturday at Hutto-Patterson Gymnasium. Against Cypress, PCC lost in four sets, 26-24, 23-25, 25-19, 25-19. PCC led the opening set, 23-21, but could not hold on and lost in extra points, the last two on a service error and block error. An Abby Martin kill capped a 2-point win in set 2, and PCC led the third set 17-15 only to see the Chargers go on a 10-2 run to grab the game. In the fourth set, Pamela Galvan served one of the team's 18 aces for a brief 11-10 Lancers lead. Again, Cypress took control with a 6-2 spurt that closed out the match.

Besides Rivera's big performance, Martin, a frosh opposite, added eight kills while letterman outside hitter Camille Ferguson tallied six kills and five aces. The sophomore defensive specialist Galvan made a team-high 16 digs and had two aces off the PCC bench. Sophomore middle blocker Rachel Johnson added six kills and had three block assists, and freshman setter Nikki Hernandez dished out 33 assists. The Lancers aggressive serving attack was offset by 12 errors compared to only one service error (and 10 aces) by Cypress. 

Against MiraCosta, a team that was No. 5 and a state tournament qualifier last year, PCC was swept in a match that was closer than the final indicated, 25-23, 25-19, 25-21. the Lancers led 13-12 in the opening set and then tied it 23-23 on a Rivera kill. But the Mustangs (4-0) snatched sideout on a PCC service error and then took the set on a kill by Halie Hess. In the second set, a Rivera ace kept the game close with MC leading 18-17, but the Mustangs responded with back-to-back aces by Hayley Torres. Two kills by Kacy Hele helped complete a 7-2 run and a 2-0 sets lead for MiraCosta. In the final set, the Lancers came out strong, going on an 11-1 run, including two aces by Galvan, that gave them an 11-3 lead. MiraCosta stormed back, but PCC still maintained leads of 15-11 and then 19-16 following a Rivera kill. That was the Lancers last hurrah as the Mustangs outscored them, 9-2, to close out the win. 

Serving was also a difference in this match with PCC totaling 10 aces, but making 10 serving mistakes. MiraCosta countered with just six aces, but only one error on serves. The Mustangs only outhit PCC barely, .237 to .229. Rivera was the PCC go-to player again with 14 kills, 11 digs and three aces. Hernandez added 24 assists, three aces, and six digs while Martin contributed seven kills. Rachel Johnson had six kills and two blocks. 

The Lancers continue their toughest part of the 2018 schedule on Wednesday, Sept. 5 when they host Moorpark, No. 17-ranked in state in 2017. The Raiders are 1-2, but have losses against traditionally highly-rated El Camino (a sweep) and a 5-set defeat v. last year's No. 12 Grossmont.