PASADENA - The Pasadena City College women's volleyball team blocked out the noisy, rambunctious crowd. The Lancers then blocked out the top-ranked team in the state.
Pasadena (16-1) rallied from a first-game deficit to knock off previously unbeaten El Camino College 16-25, 25-17, 25-14, 29-27 to complete the first round of South Coast Conference play.
The Lancers' Galia Sotomayor, Jessica Foley and Jessica Xu seemed to get a hand on nearly every El Camino spike attempt.
"It was the key," said Foley, a freshman from West Covina High School. "Setting up the block was half our defense. Not only was our offense on fire, but our defense was, too."
If the middle blockers didn't get the ball, libero Marissa Rangel, a sophomore from California High, got the digs. So did Patti Blasco, an outside hitter who also plays on the back row.
"At yesterday's practice we talked about doing whatever it takes to get every ball up," Rangel said. "We weren't going to let a ball drop and it came out tonight. It wasn't just one person. It was all of us. It was amazing."
"We just played scrappy," PCC head coach Tammy Silva said. "That was the best blocking match we've ever had. Jessica dominated and the defense started digging the ball."
The match had a playoff feel to it. The Warriors have won every conference title since volleyball moved to rally scoring in 2001. El Camino, which has won the last two state titles, was riding a 33-match regular-season winning streak.
PCC never has won a conference title. The Lancers are ranked sixth, their highest ranking ever, and are riding a 13-match winning streak.
When the Warriors failed to return Xu's serve at match point, the football team, standing on the sidelines, rushed the court and was followed by the student body. It was PCC's first victory over El Camino since Nov. 8, 2000, the year before rally scoring began.
"We've set the stage," Foley said. "We're on top right now."
"This is huge for our program," Silva said.
After El Camino took the first game, Pasadena's blocking scheme seemed to fluster the Warriors. Whenever Kayelani Tulikhihifo, Yacine Meyer or Sarah Prather went for a spike, Xu and Foley appeared to be in place for the block. Xu had six blocks to Foley's five.
But El Camino found resilience in the fourth game. Pasadena jumped out to a 15-9 lead behind the kills of Nicole Holmes and then led 17-11 on a Miranda Doing spike and block. But the Warriors began doing their own blocking, with Prather, Courtney Wilson and Meyer doing the honors to cut the lead to 17-16.
The Warriors eventually had game point at 24-21, but PCC scored four consecutive points, two off blocks, for a 25-24 lead. Each team had a point advantage in the extra time.
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