The Santa Barbara City College Women’s Volleyball team upset #22-ranked Moorpark Friday night at home in five sets. The fiery match was capped off by a fifth set Vaqueros win deep in extra time, 21-19.
SBCC now sits 2-0 in conference play, the only unbeaten team remaining. Moorpark had upset #5 Ventura just two nights prior, while the Vaqueros had beaten LA Mission on Wednesday, as well.
“I was so proud of how hard our team battled throughout the ups and downs of the entire match,” Vaquero head coach Kat Niksto said. “All around it was a great team effort!”
The Vaqueros dominated the first set, cruising to a 25-13 win. Momentum had seemed to be a huge factor for SBCC of late, who now had won seven of their last eight sets and came into the night winning four of their last five matches.
Aggressive serving by Moorpark was the key to silencing Life Sports Pavilion temporarily, as they snapped the Vaqueros’ run and won the second set 20-25.
The third set was even more competitive, but the Vaqueros found themselves down 23-24 late. SBCC could not salvage the next point and now faced the uphill task of coming back down two sets to one.
Niksto remained focused and confident in her team, and a lineup change provided a spark of new life, allowing the Vaqueros to stay in the match.
They went on to win set four 25-20 and extended the match to a fifth set. It would be SBCC’s fourth 5-setter in the last seven matches.
Of course, such a battle would not end easily. After regulation’s first-to-15 points was not enough, SBCC and Moorpark traded points all the way to 19-all.
With everyone in the gym hanging on to every point, it would only make sense that the electric Sophie Ward would be involved in the outcome. The sophomore had the biggest stuff block of the night to put SBCC up 20-19, setting up match point.
The Vaqueros finally finished off the win on the next point, winning 25-13, 20-25, 23-25, 25-20, 21-19.
“Natalie Lercari-Sullivan played her usual outstanding defense, and she and Sophie did a great job of running the offense the entire night,” Niksto said.
Lercari-Sullivan had 22 assists and 8 digs, while Ward had 16 assists, 11 digs, and that one crucial block.
“Heidi Collins excelled offensively again on the right side attacking, while Kira Little was steady in her all-around play from the left,” Niksto said. “Middles Alexis Zevenbergen and Carly Hanna worked hard all night attacking and blocking, and helping our pins be more successful.”
Collins tallied a team-leading 15 kills, while Little and Zevenbergen had seven and eight, respectively. Little also provided 11 digs and three aces, and Zevenbergen led the team with four blocks.
“Gabby Russell had another strong night at libero, and was accompanied by defensive specialists Callie Rule and Celia Espinoza who both came in later in the match to help bolster our serve receive and defense,” Niksto said.
Russell notched her third match with 20+ digs of the season, already at 226 total digs and counting. Nevaeh Tillet had 10 digs, as well.
“This week was a great start to our conference play,” Niksto said. “But it’s only the beginning, we are hungry for more.”
The Vaqueros have now won five of their last six and play next at home against LA Pierce on Wednesday night at 6:00 p.m.