State #16 Women's Volleyball Comes Up Aces v. #25 El Camino

Makayla Chiechi delivers a serve in a recent match.
Makayla Chiechi delivers a serve in a recent match.

Since head coach Mike Terrill took over the Pasadena City College women's volleyball program in 2016, the Lancers have used serving as an offensive weapon by challenging opponents with an aggressive approach from the serve line.

On Wednesday evening at Hutto-Patterson Gymnasium, state #16-ranked PCC went to its trusty offensive source and rained 19 aces down on #25 El Camino in defeating the Warriors in four sets, 25-20, 24-26, 25-20, 25-15. PCC avenged an earlier upset loss to El Camino in the first round of South Coast Conference play and also recovered from another upset defeat at Rio Hondo (four sets) on Oct. 14. 

Setter Bia Silva led the early serve parade with six aces (plus 30 assists, five kills and four blocks) while outside hitter Emma Yogan revved up things later in the match and finished with five aces to go with a team-high 13 kills. 

Middle blocker Ashley Gilbert rifled three aces, defensive specialist Makayla Chiechi delivered two aces and a team-high 13 digs, and  libero Emily Licon added two aces, five set assists, and 12 digs. While aggressive serving also leads to mistakes (14 errors), Terrill realizes the end product is longer PCC scoring runs and increased pressure on opponents.

PCC's serving statistics show that when the Lancers reach 12 or more aces the team is a perfect 10-0 this season. Pasadena is 2-1 when reaching 10 or 11 aces, but 1-4 in contests under double digits in service points. PCC is fourth in the state in average aces per set at 3.04 and average 11.5 per match.

"We executed at a higher level than we did when we faced El Camino in the opening round (just eight aces in that match)," Terrill said. "We had multiple servers go on runs and we received serve at a high level. When we do that the rest of our game can follow. It's important we take this momentum into next week."

PCC is 13-5 overall and improved to 4-3 in conference play, still fourth place in the SCC. First-place and state #10 Mt. San Antonio suffered its first loss in five sets v. scrappy Rio Hondo on Wednesday to drop to 6-1. Unranked Rio Hondo and El Camino are both 5-2 as the conference race is far from being decided.

Another factor in the Lancers win v. ECC was the play of middle blocker Reese Roper, who landed eight kills and contributed six blocks. 

"Reese has been reliable all year for us," Terrill said. "She's always hungry to get better and find solutions. Her blocking presence really made a difference tonight."

Outside hitter Ashley Marrone came off the bench to score 10 kills (hit .300) and five digs. Reserve defensive specialist Karmen Turner had her most productive match of the season with six digs and two set assists.

In the loss at Rio Hondo, 25-22, 25-19, 17-25, 25-23, PCC played without an injured Gilbert and the Roadrunners were able to have three players combine for 41 attack kills, 17 by Nadine Oronez. The Roadrunners defended well with 104 digs as PCC could only score five aces. For PCC, Yogan scored 16 kills and 11 digs, opposite Kyley Chang had six kills and six blocks (four solos), and Licon reached her season best of 22 digs.

On Oct. 12 at East Los Angeles, the Lancers swept the Huskies, 25-23, 25-19, 25-21, behind Chang's 11 kills (and three blocks) and a near triple-double by Silva, who had nine kills (hit .348), 17 assists and 14 digs. Silva already has four triple-doubles this season.

Yogan added 11 kills and 11 digs, Marrone 10 kills, and setter Lindsay Delgadillo set a team-high 18 assists. Chiechi defended well with 13 digs and surprisingly was the only Lancer with aces (three). Licon made 15 digs and Ariana Pedroza chipped in two blocks.

PCC won't play again until next Wednesday, Oct. 26 when the Lancers host Long Beach City College in a 6 p.m. first serve.