CLAREMONT, CA. – The Pomona-Pitzer Women's Volleyball Team grinded it out to five sets in their Senior Night matchup against Chapman University, but fell 3-2 (17-25, 25-22, 15-25, 25-21, 15-8) to the Panthers on Friday night at Voelkel Gym. Head Coach Valerie Townsend opened up the event with a pre-game ceremony honoring the seniors on her team, commending Natalie Martin, Jessica Finn, and Kate Porter for their contributions to the Sagehens Volleyball program.
Season Impact: The loss concludes the Sagehens' season at 8-20 overall and 5-11 in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference while Chapman improves to a 15-10 record overall and 9-6 in SCIAC play.
Playing in their final game for the Sagehens, Martin, Finn, and Porter all made big contributions on the floor. Martin did a solid job with receiving the ball, collecting 16 digs, while Finn led the team with 29 assists. Porter had a decent versatile showing, posting five kills and two total blocks. Isabel Kelly led the Sagehens with 15 kills for the night with an incredibly efficient .480 hitting percentage.
After battling back and forth early in the first set to an 8-8 tie, the Sagehens broke out with a 7-1 run, pushing through long rallies and capitalizing on receiving errors from the Panthers. A huge emphatic kill by Vicky-Marie Addo-Ashong and a combined stuff from Kelly and Kayla Krilove extended the Sagehens' lead 17-10. After the Panthers rallied back for three points, a kill by Addo-Ashong sparked a 4-0 run as the Hens padded their lead 22-14. Sophie Janssen earned a kill off a toss from Britnie Casillas to give Pomona-Pitzer the set 25-17.
The second set nearly mirrored the first, except it went in Chapman's favor. As the two teams remained fairly close in the beginning stretches of the match, Lauren Friend of Chapman made the difference as her services gave the Sagehens difficulties in getting a good pass off a dig. After Chapman took a 16-15 lead, the momentum started to shift in their favor as they broke into a 5-2 run to make it 21-17. Back-to-back kills by Friend and Kylie Cooke gave Chapman the set 25-22.
The Sagehens regained their composure and bounced back with a big third set. Trailing 11-9, the Hens broke out with six straight points thanks to three attacking errors by the Panthers. After Chapman broke the drought with a kill by Courtney Justus, the Hens struck back again with a 5-0 run, including two service aces from Casillas to take a 20-12 lead. Finn closed the set with a curling service shot for the ace, as the Sagehens took it 25-15 to lead 2-1.
Chapman responded big in the fourth set, desperate to stay alive. Trailing 11-5, the Panthers battled back with an 8-0 run to take a 13-11 lead. After the Hens tied the game at 14 apiece, Jessica Blum of Chapman orchestrated another thanks to her well-placed tosses to spark a 5-point rally, during which she collected three assists. Leading 19-14, Chapman never looked back as kills by Justus and a block by Abby Smith closed the set 25-21 as the Panthers tied the game.
Pomona-Pitzer looked to win it in the final set, but the Panthers prevailed after breaking through a 6-6 tie. With a 10-8 lead, Chapman finished the set with five straight points to win the match 3-2.
Closing Remarks: Pomona-Pitzer Athletics is thankful to Jessica Finn, Natalie Martin, and Kate Porter for their hard work and contributions to the Sagehens Volleyball Program. Their impact and leadership are appreciated as they demonstrated true Sagehen Spirit through thick and thin.