WVB: Vaqueros rally to win playoff five-setter

SBCC rallied from a 2-0 deficit to beat Mt. San Antonio 3-2 on Tuesday night in the first round of the Southern Cal Regional women’s volleyball playoffs at the Sports Pavilion. The scores were 23-25, 23-25, 25-21, 26-24, 15-6.

“We made a lot of errors in the first two sets and they were still close,” said sophomore co-captain Katelynn Womack. “We knew they were beatable, we just had to make our serves and stay tough.

“Something happened in the last three sets and we lit the fire. It was really fun playing those games.”

Shannon Friend had 21 kills and hit .380 to lead the top-seeded Vaqueros (24-3) to their fifth straight win. Womack added 21 kills and 14 digs for the Vaqueros, who are 11-0 at home this season. No. 16 Mt. SAC ends its year with an 18-6 record.

Womack tied her career high with 21 kills and posted her 10th double-double. She surpassed 600 kills for her career and has 611 in 53 matches (11.5 per match). Setter Shiloe Parsons had 51 assists and 11 digs. Raleigh McKinney notched 15 digs.

Sophomore libero Tristen Thompson produced a career-high 45 digs and moved into the No. 3 spot in the state with 532 digs.

“This is amazing, what a great feeling,” said Thompson. “They played really well in the first two games. We really minimized our errors in the last three. I love diving for digs. That’s my favorite part of the game.”

SBCC jumped ahead 7-2 in the fifth set on aces by Raleigh McKinney and Hillary Bean and kills by Womack and Kaitlyn Clemann. The margin grew to 12-5 on the most exciting point of the match with numerous amazing digs on both sides in a 12-hit rally. Isabella Thompson made it 12-5 with a solo block.

The Vaqueros won the match when McKinney served and Isabella Thompson and Clemann combined on a block. Thompson had six kills, hit .375 and made eight blocks.

“I think we made some nervous mistakes in the first two sets,” said coach Ed Gover. “We missed a couple of serves but we were still doing some good things. Their setter is extremely good and one of the best we’ve faced. She’s very quick and we had to get used. to where she was distributing the ball. We were making some fake reads and gave them easy opportunities to score.”

The Vaqueros had a 24-18 lead in the fourth set and the Mounties reeled off six straight points and tied it, 24-24, on a kill by Makenzie Thieme. SBCC prevailed 26-24 on a kill by Isabella Thompson and a long hit by the Mounties.
Mt. SAC had five players between 10 and 14 kills, led by Haley English with 14 and Thieme with 13. Setter Leau Quiocho had 53 assists.

“We knew it was going to be a battle,” said Gover. “They’re similar to us. They have decent middles, their setter is good and they have good outsides. Their ball control kept them in it.

“Once we got used to the pace, we settled down and started playing our game.

There were 13 ties in the first set before the visitors went on a 3-1 run and won it 25-23 when Womack served in the net. SBCC fell behind 9-1 in the second set, then rallied to tie it at 18 on a cross-court kill by Womack. The Vaqueros never got the lead, however, and Mt. SAC won another 25-23 decision when two Vaqueros went for the ball and a double-contact was called.

There were 10 ties in the third set, then Santa Barbara went on a 6-2 run and took a 19-15 lead when Womack drilled a kill off the block. The home team got its first set win on a kill by Clemann and a kill down the line by Womack.
The Vaqueros broke open a tight battle in the fourth set with a 5-0 run that made it 15-9. The  burst was capped by a tip kill from Womack, a block by Isabella Thompson and a kill off the block and out by Womack.

The Vaqueros outhit the Mounties .299 to .159 and had 13 blocks, including 20 assists. Isabella Thompson had eight blocks (seven assists), Clemann had four and Womack and Hannah Cantrell three apiece.

“Hillary Bean had some great saving digs, as did Tristen and Raleigh,” Gover noted. “Shannon got in a mismatch. We rotated to get her on the setter and that was a great height advantage which gave us a lot of production.”

The Vaqueros will host No. 8 Irvine Valley (16-5) on Saturday at 6 p.m. The Lasers, champions of the Orange Empire Conference, swept No. 9 San Diego Mesa 3-0 on Tuesday.