Robert Lewis, CCCWVCA SID, email@example.com
Santa Barbara City College strengthened its place among the state's top 10 using a valiant effort to rally past Golden West and then a sterling performance to down host Pierce in winning the 5th Brahma Invitational Tournament played Sept. 26-27 in Woodland Hills. Eight teams participated in the event.
The Vaqueros survived a pair of match points to win the semifinal v. Golden West, not only handing the Rustlers their first loss in nine matches, but avenging a loss to them a week earlier at a Fullerton Quad tourney.
SBCC won 17-25, 26-24, 25-19, 24-26, 17-15. In the fifth set, Golden West led 14-12 before freshman RS Alissa La Rocca won a sideout as the Vaqueros tied it at 15 on the way to the extra-points triumph. SBCC went 3-0 in the eight-team tourney.
La Rocca totaled 12 kills while frosh OH Katelynn Womack added a double-double on 13 kills and 11 digs. Sophomore setter Madelon Leiphardt dished out 50 assists and 112 in the three matches.
Defense was a big factor in the championship final win over Pierce, 17-25, 25-16, 25-23, 25-22. The Vaqueros recorded a season-high 73 digs, including 17 by freshman DS Tristen Thompson, 16 by sophomore libero Eryn Young, and 13 by Womack, who was the team's only double-digit kills player with 13.
"This is a prestigious tournament and battling Pierce will set the tone for us in conference," said SBCC head coach Ed Gover. "We play them again on Friday at their place (in the WSC North opener).
"The Golden West match was a great battle and great fight by both teams. We trailed by five in the fourth set before Young served six points in a row to put us up 24-23."
Pierce upended Pasadena City in four and then swept Moorpark in the semifinals to reach the title match. OH Autumn Russell scored 11 kills and 12 digs against Santa Barbara. Libero Darrin Rice added 20 digs and served four aces.
"Santa Barbara won the serving and passing battle, and their back row simply created more opportunities for their hitters to get kills with their ball control skills," said Pierce head coach Nabil Mardini. "Ed always does such a good job of training his players. We look forward to seeing them again in WSC play."
Brahmas OH Jessica Martinez pounded 25 kills in the PCC win and Rice totaled 31 digs in the Moorpark victory.
Golden West swept Porterville behind 14 kills by OH Gabi Nguyen and later took third place with a 4-set triumph over Moorpark. The Rustlers credited libero Kelynn Mullally with a season-high 50 digs against the Raiders, who had 20 kills and five aces from MB Melissa Brueckner.
Porterville scored some state "cred" with victories over SoCal teams in sweeping San Diego Mesa and defeating Bakersfield in four sets for 5th place. Versatile OH Meranda Watkins totaled 39 kills, 47 set assists and 22 digs in three matches for the Pirates.