State badminton finals rematch for Fresno and Pasadena

Pasadena City College's Hong Yan Liu in action during the Lancers SoCal win over Grossmont. PCC plays Fresno in the CCCAA State Women's Badminton Championships on Thursday at Mission College.
Pasadena City College's Hong Yan Liu in action during the Lancers SoCal win over Grossmont. PCC plays Fresno in the CCCAA State Women's Badminton Championships on Thursday at Mission College.

(SANTA CLARA, Calif.)--Defending state champion Fresno City College plays a rematch of the 2016 state team final when it faces undefeated Pasadena City College in the CCCAA title match on Thursday, May 11 that kicks off the the 3-day, CCCAA State Women's Badminton Championships. Match time for the team final is 3 p.m. at Mission College. The event continues with the individual singles and doubles tournament on Friday-Saturday, May 12-13.

The other state final rematches in badminton tourney history were 2013-15 when De Anza and San Diego City faced off three straight seasons (De Anza winning two, SD City one) and 2004-05 when Irvine Valley defeated Skyline in back-to-back finals. 

In the 17-year history of the state tournament, PCC (12-0) has never won the state title. No team from its South Coast Conference has won a team championship as well. Meanwhile, Fresno captured its first-ever California crown last year by beating the Lancers, 11-10, at Pasadena's home court. Fresno appeared in one other final, losing to San Diego City in 2007. 

PCC lost one other time in the finals in 2010 against City College of San Francisco. This is the third state final for both colleges. 

Under head coach Carol Kadingo, Fresno (7-1, the co-Coast Conference champions) returns its No. 1 and No. 2 singles players from last year in Lucy Lor and Panhia Vang. The pair also was the Rams No. 2 doubles team and then went on to reach the championship individual doubles final before losing. This year, the duo is the North's No. 1 doubles seed in the individuals. PCC returns only one player, its No. 6 on the ladder in Hong Yan Liu, who is playing at No. 2 this year.

Pasadena, the SCC champions for the third straight year under head coach Jennifer Ho, is led by No. 1 singles player Sarah Thaw, the younger sister of 2015 state doubles champion Sandra Maw. Another key player is No. 3 singles Natalie Ong. Ong and No. 4 Amy Huang make up one of the top South seed doubles. Thaw and Liu play team No. 1 doubles for the deep Lancers squad.

In the individual tourney, the singles competition has a frontrunner in Grossmont's Yukari Naono, who swept PCC's Thaw, 21-9, 21-10, in the SoCal Regional finals. The two join Fresno's Lor as top seeds.

In the individual doubles, Grossmont's pair of Naono and Rebekah Leslie is a favorite as is Fresno's Lor and Vang. Although not a top seed, Jean Buenaflor of East Los Angeles is the returning state doubles champion and has a new partner this year in Quan Zhang. Another doubles pair that could prove dangerous is De Anza's sophomore duo of Elita Murtanu and Tiffany Liao. De Anza handed Fresno its only team loss, 11-10, in their last regular season matchup.

Release by Robert Lewis, CCCSIA 


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