Undefeated PCC Badminton wins its first state title

PCC women's badminton, the 2017 CCCAA champions.
PCC women's badminton, the 2017 CCCAA champions.

(SANTA CLARA, Calif.)--After 18 years that the sport has been offered, the Pasadena City College women's badminton team finally captured its first CCCAA State Championship, defeating Fresno City College, 11-10, in the title match Thursday. The score was not indicative of how things went as the Lancers clinched the match at 11-5 during the third round of play.

The Lancers completed an undefeated season at 13-0 and became the first South Coast Conference college to win a state title. It was just the second state team title in the history of PCC women's athletics dating back to when California Community Colleges sanctioned state championships for the gender in 1977. The other PCC victory was the 2009 women's basketball team.

PCC head coach Jen Ho moved her overall record to 38-2 in her three seasons in charge of the Lancers program. Pasadena avenged last year's 11-10 loss to Fresno at its home court in the state final. PCC is the second consecutive first-time winner after the Rams first title. Only seven colleges have won the state team crown in women's badminton.

Fresno City saw its season end at 7-2 despite two singles wins by No. 5 player Amy Vang, including a marathon 13-21, 23-21, 22-20 triumph v. PCC's No. 5 Chaw Thinzar Mon.

It was the Lancers singles that proved to be the difference as PCC led 4-2 after the first round of play and they did the same in the third round, 4-2, to score eight out of the 12 points. The Lancers picked up an important doubles win by the No. 1 duo of Sarah Thaw and Hong Yan Liu in the second round over FCC's No. 2 team of Linda Vue and Bao Vang.

Thaw won her two singles matches, defeating the Rams No. 2 Lucy Lor, 21-7, 21-18. When she scored match point to beat FCC's Panhia Vang, 21-14, 21-15, it was the clinching team point at 11-5. Natalie Ong, PCC's No. 3 player, dominated, routing No. 3 Vue, 21-5, 21-6 and No. 4 Bao Vang, 21-7, 21-10. Lancers' No. 4 Amy Huang scored two wins and both Mon at No. 5 and Annie Ly grabbed a win each. All of PCC's singles winners were freshmen. 

"One of the biggest things was preventing injuries this year," Coach Ho said. "Last year, both of our top players suffered injuries that hurt us in the finals. So we worked hard on conditioning and it paid off. We have a young team, but we had some really good chemistry. Natalie and Amy have been playing great. This is so gratifying for me. I had a state doubles champion my first, a singles champion last year, and now a team state title. It's been a great run."

Ong talked about the team's postseason wins.  "The Grossmont match was so nerve-racking and it was a lot of pressure on us, needing that last doubles win. Here, we came out and determined to win in singles. Myself, I was nervous to start the year, and then I became consistent in my shot selection and I felt I became stronger as we entered the playoffs."

Fresno head coach Carol Kadingo said, "We had all sophomores last year except for our top two players, and it was reversed this year as we were a younger team. I think PCC was just stronger than us. Give them credit, and they got to experience what we did a year ago. For us, we have a state title and a runner-up and that says something about how our program has grown."

#1 Sarah Thaw (PAS) d. #2 Lucy Lor (FR), 21-7, 21-18
#2 Hong Yan Liu (PAS) lost to #1 Panhia Vang (FR), 21-19, 21-12
#3 Natalie Ong (PAS) d. #4 Bao Vang (FR), 21-7, 21-10
#4 Amy Huang (PAS) d. #3 Linda Vue (FR), 21-13, 21-12
#5 Chaw Thinzar Mon (PAS) d. #6 Arrika Levario (FR), 21-11, 21-12
#6 Annie Ly (PAS) lost to #5 Amy Vang (FR), 21-8, 21-11.
Running Score-PCC 4, Fresno 2
#1 Thaw-Liu (PAS) d. #2 Vue-B. Vang (FR), 21-6, 21-5 
#2 Ong-Huang (PAS) lost to #1 P. Vang-Lor (FR), 21-18, 21-14
#3 Mon-Ly (PAS) d. #3 A. Vang-Levario (FR),  21-16, 21-9
PCC 7, Fresno 4
Thaw (PAS) d. P. Vang, 21-14, 21-15
Liu (PAS) lost to Lor, 21-19, 21-12
Ong (PAS) d. Vue,  21-5, 21-6
Huang (PAS) d. B. Vang, 21-11, 21-12
Thinzar Mon (PAS) lost to A. Vang, 13-21, 23-21, 22-20
Ly (PAS) d. Levario, 21-13, 21-13
PCC 11, Fresno 6 
Thaw-Liu (PAS) d. P. Vang-Lor, 21-7, 21-15
Mon-Noemi Diaz (PAS) lost to Vue-B. Vang, 21-12, 21-11
PCC 11, Fresno 10 

Release by Robert Lewis, CCCSIA