(Long Beach, CA) The Mt. SAC Women's Volleyball Team stayed alive in the inaugural South Coast Conference Championship Tournament, with a 3-0 sweep of Cerritos College, on Friday (Nov. 15), at Long Beach City College.
After losing in the opening match to No. 4 Seed Rio Hondo, 3-1, the No. 5 Seed Mounties (10-17, 7-9) rebounded and defeated the No. 8 Seed Falcons, 3-0, to advance to the consolation final against L.A. Harbor (12-12, 6-10) on Tuesday (Nov. 19). The match will be held at LBCC and will start at 7:00 pm. The Mounties defeated Harbor twice this season by 3-1 scores.
"The SCC tournament is new this year and there is good competition," Mt. SAC Interim Volleyball coach Samantha Neely said. "All of the teams in the conference have stepped up their game, even more in this tournament-style format. It's a great opportunity to fight for the conference title."
In the Rio Hondo match (23-25, 25-11, 25-18, 25-18), Mt. SAC outside hitter Jessica Morse (6 digs) led with 10 kills, followed by outside hitter Macy Barnes with nine kills. Setter Azriel White led the team with 20 assists, while four players had double-digit digs - Ashly Velazquez (16), White (15), outside hitter Juliana Gomez (14) and Barnes (13).
"Jess (Morse) has been a solid player for us all season and continues to lead the team in this match (Rio Hondo)," Neely said. "She came down with a really bad cold the day before, but you would never be able to tell the difference in her high-level play."
The Mounties took the opening set, but Rio swept the next three for the win.
"The team came into our match against a scrappy Rio Hondo team with the mindset that we had to win every touch on the ball," Neely said. "In the first set, we came out playing some of the best volleyball the team has played together this season. We've had a series of unfortunate injuries the past couple weeks, most recently in this match with our starting setter Janderi Ceja going out with a minor ankle sprain in the second set.
"After a tough loss in the second set, the team rallied to fight back in the third and fourth, but was never able to fully recover. Every healthy player we had was seeing playing time on the court. I was proud of the way our freshmen off the bench rose to the occasion after Janderi got hurt."
Cerritos was next and came along at the right time in the second match of the tourney. The Mounties completed their season sweep of the Falcons (26-28, 26-24, 25-22) without dropping a set in the three conference wins.
Morse (3 digs) and Barnes (12 digs, 1 service ace) again led the Mounties. "Jess (Morse) and Macy (Barnes) were killing machines on the pins with 12 kills apiece," Neely said. "They both had some really clutch points."
Ceja, who came back after her minor ankle injury against Rio Hondo, led the team with 17 assists and seven digs and White (4 SA) had 12 assists.
The Mounties trailed Cerritos in the first two sets, coming back each time for the 2-0 lead. They never trailed in the final set with Barnes recording a kill to end the match for the sweep.
"(Friday) our focus was on consistency, and I think we did a nice job executing that goal," said Neely of the Cerritos win.
"Cerritos fought hard, but we were able to keep our side level for most of the match. Aziel (White) was in her zone. She was hitting the serving targets I gave her perfectly, which resulted in the four aces she had in just the third set alone. That really built up the momentum for us and enabled the team to finish the end of the game on a strong note.
"Both of our middles were a big blocking presence, shutting down a lot of hitting attempts from the other side. Katie (Magdalik) is really starting to own her new role as a starting middle."
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For additional information, please contact the Mt. SAC Sports Information Office at 909.274.4630.