WVB: Vaqueros march on, defeat Irvine Valley

In the wild and crazy world of playoff women’s volleyball, there’s more ups and downs than a busy elevator in a skyscraper. SBCC coach Ed Gover says it’s all about keeping an even keel and staying the course.

That’s what SBCC did on Saturday night in a 3-1 win over Irvine Valley in the second round of the Southern Cal Regional at the Sports Pavilion. The scores were 28-26, 25-22, 17-25, 25-21.

“The key is to be calm and play steady,” said coach Ed Gover, after earning the 327th win of his 25-year SBCC career. “It’s a big match for both teams. When you face elimination, these kids get nervous.

“It was a crazy first set and then we settled in. When a team faces elimination and their backs are against the wall, they’ve got to try something. They came back strong, split their lineup and got a matchup that worked for them. In the fourth set, we changed our defense a little and Raleigh McKinney had that nice serving run to get some separation.”

Sophomore Katelynn Womack led the top-seeded Vaqueros (25-3) with 19 kills and Shannon Friend had 15. Isabella Thompson and Kaitlyn Clemann both had seven kills and five blocks for SBCC, which hit .299 for the match.

The Vaqueros tied the 1979 team for the second-most wins in school history. The 1979 squad went 25-4.

The Vaqueros took control of the first set with an early 4-0 run and took an 11-7 lead on a dump shot by setter Shiloe Parsons and a kill by Friend. The lead stayed between 3-5 points until Clemann launched a kill to make it 22-18.

Irvine Valley (16-6), the defending state champion, scored three straight to pull within a point. The Vaqueros had two set points and IVC had one at 26-25 before the Vaqueros secured the 28-26 OT victory on a wide hit by IVC, a kill down the line by Friend and a long hit by the Lasers’ Kayla Scheevel.

The second set was tight until the Vaqueros went on a 5-2 run and claimed the 25-22 victory on a kill by Hannah Cantrell.

Parsons had 44 assists and five kills. Tristen Thompson collected 28 digs while Hillary Bean had a season-high 18.

“We had a good game plan and we were killing it those first two sets,” said Parsons, a 5-9 freshman from Coronado, Calif. “They came back in the third set and we just needed to minimize our errors. We needed better first-ball contact. Tristen did an awesome job with digging and passing overall. It was a good win.”

The Lasers dominated the third set, jumping out to leads of 12-6, 16-8 and 20-12. Olivia Aguilar was a key factor with five kills and a block for Irvine Valley.

The Vaqueros led 9-8 in the third game when Raleigh McKinney came in to serve. She served eight straight points, fueled by two aces and three kills from Womack, to stretch the lead to 17-8.

Santa Barbara took a 21-13 lead on an ace serve by Hillary Bean and a long hit by IVC. But the visitors rallied back and cut the deficit to 21-18 and 23-20. The Vaqueros secured their sixth straight win on a tip kill by Isabella Thompson and a kill off a back-row defender by Friend.

The top four seeds made it to the Final 4 of the Southern Cal Regional and three are from the Western State Conference.

The Vaqueros, co-champions of the WSC North, will host No. 4 Canyons on Tuesday at 6 p.m. Canyons, the WSC South champion and host of the State Final 4 on Dec. 5-6, rallied to beat No. 5 Grossmont 3-2 on Saturday night.

SBCC defeated Canyons 3-1 on Sept. 30 in Santa Barbara. Canyons (24-2) hasn’t lost since, reeling off 14 straight wins.

No. 2 L.A. Pierce will host No. 3 El Camino in the other So Cal Regional final on Tuesday. The winners will advance to the CCCAA State Championships.

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