Chiechi Aces Out As #13 Volleyball Clinches 4-Set Playoff Victory

Ashley Marrone powers a kill during PCC's playoff win on Saturday night (photo by Richard Quinton).
Ashley Marrone powers a kill during PCC's playoff win on Saturday night (photo by Richard Quinton).

After taking a commanding 2-0 sets lead v. #20 seed San Bernardino Valley, the host #13 Pasadena City College women's volleyball team fell into dire straits by the fourth set. The Lancers faced a 23-19 hole as the Wolverines were two points away from forcing a fifth set.

A sideout on a ballhandling error put PCC libero Makayla Chiechi at the service line. The All-South Coast Conference Second Team sophomore then took over and in dramatic fashion served an amazing four aces on the following five serves to give PCC a hard-fought, 25-21, 25-20, 15-25, 25-23 victory in the opening round of the Southern California Regional Playoffs on Saturday night.

The Lancers (19-8) advance to face #4 Irvine Valley on the road on Tuesday, Nov. 21. 

"The match shifted in the third set when San Bernardino started serving tougher," said PCC head coach Mike Terrill. "Our first contacts couldn't get the ball to the targets as we had weaker ball control. In that fourth set, we faced adversity, but we finally started to serve tough, the way we had done in the opening two sets. Mak elevated her focus at the end."

All-SCC First Team outside hitter Emma Yogan became just the second Lancer ever to reach 600 kills in her career as she landed 16 kills (hit an efficient .310) and tied Chiechi for the team lead in digs with 13. 

All-SCC First Team middle blocker Ashley Gilbert added seven kills and three aces while starting middle blocker Itzel Aguayo had four kills and three block assists. All-SCC First Team setter Lindsay Delgadillo, honored by the team for reaching 1,000 set assists in her career prior to the match, contributed 34 assists, four aces and seven digs.

The bench provided PCC a big lift with the play of outside hitter Ashley Marrone (seven kills) and freshman OH Chayse Hoon, who added four kills and a block, but was steady at the net, especially in the final set. 

"Ashley seems to perform anytime we ask her, despite not knowing when those opportunities for her to shine would take place," Terrill said. "She did the same last year in the playoffs as a freshman v. Grossmont. Chayse picked a good time to have her best performance of the year.

"I felt we were laser focused those first two sets. I also was happy we got to play in the first round over getting a higher seed in the second round. We needed to play after those last few tough losses in conference, and it was special to play in front of the home fans."

SBVC (18-7) has been the secret of the SoCal Region this year, but not anymore as freshmen twins Loleaulelei and Manaia Mamea put on a clinic in powerful swings and tenacious overall play. The pair combined for 39 kills (22 by Loleaulelei), 26 digs, four blocks and two aces. 

In another career milestone, Chiechi reached the 600 digs mark in the match.

It was the Lancers first postseason win since 2018.

Makayla Chiechi makes the serve as Coach Mike Terrill looks