Erick Lemus/Courier Rachel Johnon spikes the ball through defenders during the volleyball game between Pasadena City College and Riverside City College at Hutto-Patterson Gymnasium on Friday, October 20 2017.
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Lancers’ volleyball narrowly defeated East Los Angeles College (ELAC) in a heated five set match Friday evening (15-25, 25-19, 17-25, 25-23, 15-9), successfully defending their first place title in the South Coast Conference North Division (6-0).

“What was different about this one I think [is that] we had a game plan and I think their game plan was better than ours,” head coach Mike Terrill said. “[The match] was much more competitive. We had to dig really deep.”

The Lancers struggled in the first set as the Huskies’ dominant plays landed them seven points upfront before the Lancers even acquired one. PCC eventually found their stride with calculated kills from outside hitter Vanessa Lopez and digs by setter Emily Leung. However, spurred on from the sidelines by their head coach Elliott Walker, the Huskies played aggressively and ended the set in their favor.

The Lancers appeared to return with renewed spirits in the second set. Their focus and persistent attacks earned them a victory. The third set, however, proved difficult as the Huskies relentlessly blocked PCC’s efforts to get over the net.

“We were kind of  wobbling there for a second,” Terrill said. “Their team is a tough puzzle for us to solve … they’re so versatile and adaptable and flexible.”

Even when the Huskies were in the lead, the Lancers retained a camaraderie throughout the game, as those on the sidelines enthusiastically supported their teammates.

“It definitely helps,” said Paige Clingaman. “Being a cohesive unit is super important and when we have everyone cheering and yelling for each other, it just pumps you up even more and just gives you the motivation to go and make that play.”

Moving into the fourth set, the Lancers reasserted control. With critical defense from middle blocker Rachel Johnson and outside hitter Kendall Schmedes they were able to push through the fourth set. Tensions rose soon after the Lancers tied the match with only a two point lead.

The last set of the match was anyone’s game. Both the Huskies and Lancers played with fiery energy as neither team took the lead in the beginning of the set. But the Lancers upped their intensity and quickly took the match with a final 15-9 score.

“We bounded together and just fought like crazy,” said Coach Terrill.

The Lancers’ victory is the ninth win of their last ten games. Although their winning streak has built up the team’s confidence and elevated their gameplay, the success also means the team has higher expectations to live up to.

“It makes me a little more on edge because we have something to prove every time we step on the court,” said Schmedes. “But, that’s when we all come together as a team and rebuild our confidence with each other.”

The Lancers’ will host Mt. San Antonio College (5-1) on Wednesday at 6 p.m.

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