James Membreno/ Courier Leslie Rivera spikes the ball through the ELAC defense on Wednesday, October 3, 2018, at the Hutto-Patterson.
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The PCC women’s volleyball team began the 2018 South Coast Conference on the wrong foot after losing to East Los Angeles College in a five-set home game Wednesday evening.

Last year, the Lancers won the 2017 SCC North title with a flawless 8-0 performance. While hoping to snag another win after pummeling LA Trade-Tech 3-0 last Friday, the Lancers did not expect for ELAC’s defense to knock them out of the Hutto-Patterson Gymnasium with a 3-2 loss, scoring 25-20, 16-25, 25-20, 15-25, 15-12. The Huskies secured their first victory over the Lancers at Hutto-Patterson Gymnasium following 11 consecutive losses since 2006.

PCC maintained the highest kill percentage with .232, outscoring ELAC at .222. Outside hitters Leslie Rivera and Camille Ferguson piloted the Lancers with 14 kills each and 18 and 12 digs, respectively. Rivera executed 37 attacks and Ferguson came close with 33. Abby Martin, an opposite and middle blocker, excelled with 11 kills and 28 attacks. Middle blocker Danielle Johnson scored seven aces, the most out of both teams.

The Huskies were carried by their freshmen players throughout the match. Their head coach, Elliott Walker, was glad to see his team jump out of their recent losing streak.

“We shifted our defense to run something they had not practiced.” Walker said. “Commendable in that end.”

ELAC surpassed PCC with a block score of 7.0, four points higher than the Lancers. ELAC’s middle and right side hitter Kayla Dickerson blocked twice during the match and the Huskies tallied 10 block assists. PCC carried the lead in digs, amounting to 65 in total with ELAC behind at 56.

“It was us trying to figure out our niche and see what works best,” Johnson mentioned. “Definitely their defense was good, but I feel like if we didn’t hit out, and we made better hitting choices, (then) we could have defeated them easily.”

There were several instances during the game when the Lancers team playing abilities were not in sync. PCC head coach Mike Terrill, who primed the Lancers to win the SCC North title in 2017, described their loss as due in part by “communication breakdowns”.

“It was hot and cold.” Terrill said. “We were either on or we were off. We had a couple plays where we kind of went away from our system and trusting (in) that.”

ELAC toppled the Lancers by five points in the first set. PCC was quick to escalate their lead in the second set with three services aces in a row from Johnson and a kill by Rivera, ultimately setting the score at 16-25.

For much of the third set, PCC was locked between 12 to 15 points as the score rose 24-15 with service aces from ELAC’s Victoria Trejo-Garcia and Daija Walton and kills from Yicel Quintero. ELAC’s errors allowed for PCC to jump three points, but a final blow by Samantha Villarreal ended the set at 25-20.

The Lancers were lagging behind the Huskies during the fourth set until PCC delivered a barrage of kills their way. Martin completed the set with two service aces, sealing the score at 15-25.

The majority of the fifth set was painstakingly close. PCC played catch up to ELAC’s constant one point lead until the Huskies’ served two kills in a row from Walton and Kayla Dickerson, both of whom maintained 15 kills overall, raising the score 12-10. Several instances of coordination mishaps stalled the Lancers from advancing. Ferguson finished strong with a kill, but ultimately it would take an attack error from the Lancers to end the set at 15-12.

“The fifth was tight, and we’re not strangers to fifth sets.” Terrill commented. “So we just keep putting one foot in front of the other. We’ll be alright.”

Freshman outside hitter Ariana Fotoohi, who surprised many by setting a PCC record for 11 service aces in the match against LA Trade-Tech, was unable to play due to a concussion from practice before Wednesday’s game.

After the match against ELAC, PCC was down 5-9 overall, but their optimism remains after locking the second SCC North match of the season with a 3-0 win over Mt. Sac on Friday. The Lancers will face Rio Hondo in an away game on Wednesday, October 10 at 5:00pm.

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