It didn't take long for the Pasadena City College women's volleyball team to show its excitement about returning to the floor after the program had an entire 2020 season taken away by the worldwide health crisis. On Friday at the 2021-season opening PCC Quad tourney, the Lancers were checking off boxes in a number of areas and it resulted in consecutive victories over quaity programs in MiraCosta and Cypress.
At the first offical regular season event at Hutto-Patterson Gymnasium since March, 2020, Coach Mike Terrill's squad ran off a 9-0 run with All-South Coast Conference outside hitter Nalani Young serving for a 9-1 first set lead over MiraCosta. The Lancers (2-0 record) coasted to a dominating 18-point win in the first set capped by a Young kill. The Lancers hit .636 in the set. From there, there was no stopping PCC in a sweep over the Spartans, 25-7, 25-21, 28-26.
In the final set, MiraCosta shook off early-set nerves and fought of three match points after trailing 24-21 to send the game into extra points. It was fitting that Bia Silva, the team's versatile setter, eventually ripped a kill for match point.
Silva, born in Brazil and a product of Loma Linda Academy, put on an all-around display of superb volleyball with a team-high nine kills in 17 flawless attempts, hit .529, made 10 digs, set nine assists, made two blocks, and served two of the Lancers 11 aces. Saku Yoshioka, a returning libero from 2019, added three aces and eight digs while Young and newcomer Sabiya Esquivel (Whittier High) each recorded five kills. Frosh setter Nayeli SalasOrtiz (Schurr High) contributed 14 assists.
Next up was a contest against a perennial SoCal power in Cypress. After the Chargers won the opening set, 25-19, the Lancers made adjustments and it resulted in a quick turnaround. PCC built steam and took control in a 4-set triumph, 19-25, 25-22, 25-19, 25-15, to cap a successful day. In the final set, Cypress and PCC were tied at one point, 14-14, but another big run of 10-1 put the match away for the Lancers with Young delivering match-point on a spike.
Silva again established herself as a key contributor as she tallied nine kills, 13 assists, 10 digs and served four of PCC's 13 aces. Esquivel was flying high with 13 kills (hit .323) and nine digs while Young added nine kills and 12 digs. Yoshioka was a force as well with 16 digs, five assists and two aces while SalasOrtiz exhibited her all-around skills by setting 24 assists, making five kills and serving a team-high four aces.
Another top freshman, 5-10 middle blocker Camila Sanchez-Tellez (Burbank Burroughs HS), pounded the ball with eight kills in just 11 attempts (hit .545). First-year middle blocker Monet Latunde (Arcadia High, had three kills and three blocks.
"I think we had a lot of fun today and enjoyed our volleyball," Terrill said. "Bia Silva had a great college debut and we also had key contributions from Sabiya and Nalani. I was pleased with how the team closed out a tight third set against MiraCosta. Cypress really had us on the ropes during the first set-and-a-half. We turned the tide with our service pressure and started receiving their serves at a higher level thanks to a back row presence anchored by Yoshioka and Kei'ana Pascua.
"Even when things didn't go perfectly, we found a solution and stayed together. During a timeout in the fourth set, the team talked about wanting to close out the match and take control. They did exactly that with excellent service runs by Kei'ana and Leena Albelo. Camila was extremely efficient as well attacking from the middle."
Also at the PCC Quad, both Cypress and MiraCosta recorded sweeps over Chaffey College.
The Lancers will get another big test on Wednesday, Sept 1 when they face Ventura College in a 6 p.m. first serve at the HP Gym. The Pirates (3-1) were denied this weekend's LA Mission Kickoff Classic title after taking a 2-0 sets lead over state power Moorpark before the Raiders rallied for a 5-set tourney victory. Ventura made it to the championship match after sweeps over Monterey Peninsula, Imperial Valley, and Folsom Lake.
Ironically, Terrill's crystal ball on scheduling was made to push the Lancers hard in the pre-conference portion as PCC follows the Ventura match with a Friday, Sept. 3 encounter at...Moopark (4-0 record). That match begins at 12 noon. The 2019 season ended for the Lancers in a 3-set loss to Moorpark in the first round of the SoCal Regional Playoffs.
Until Friday, 21 months had passed until the Lancers returned to the floor for competition because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Photo--Sabiya Esquivel totaled 13 kills in the win over Cypress
Photo--Saku Yoshioka fires a serve during Friday's matches