Finishing on top

Last season, El Camino and Pasadena shared the conference title. This season, the Warriors got to keep it all to themselves. Celebrating on the Lancer’s home court just made it all the more sweeter.

The EC women’s volleyball team won the South Coast Conference (SCC) title Wednesday night as they defeated Pasadena City College 3-1 (25-23, 25-15, 21-25, 25-14) in a long series of heated contests between the two rivals.

“It feels good to not be the team that doesn’t get a conference championship,” sophomore setter SueKalena Tafao said.

This was by far one of the loudest games the Warriors had to play in all season, with students from both schools showing up to cheer on their team.

The result was a ruckus atmosphere that would have made it difficult for any player to concentrate. But not the Warriors.

“We really just had to block out the crazy crowd to really remember why we’re here,” freshman outside hitter Laynie Thompson said.

The Warriors were able to keep their composure and jump out to an early two-set lead.

The first set seemed like a sign of things to come, with both teams refusing to give an inch, but the Warriors were able to pull away near the end to win 25-23.

That win seemed to have shifted all the momentum to the EC side, with the Warriors easily taking the second set 25-15.

“We made some changes for this match and it showed,” coach Le Valley Pattison said. “We had some good blocking, great defense and a lot of energy from everyone on the court.”

The Warriors seemed primed for the sweep but the Lancers refused to bow down on their home court that easily. Blowing a late lead, the Warriors found themselves tied 20-20 in the third set before the Lancers finally found some life with a 25-21 win.

“I think it’s because they’re crowd got pumped up and it made us nervous,” freshman defensive specialist Courtney Eppler said. “But we were able to stay focused.”

The third set could have been a pivotal turning point in the match but the Warriors remained calm and kept playing their game of excellent defense and ball movement. Going on to win the final set of the match 25-14 as well as the SCC championship.

“It feels amazing. I can’t describe in words how happy we are. I’m speechless,” freshman outside hitter Darlene Lee said.

Tafao and freshman middle blocker Kimberly Haney led the charge on offense with 12 kills for Haney and 14 kills for Tafao. Defensively, Eppler registered 15 digs along with 20 digs for Lee.
Few outside of the team could have predicted this at the beginning of the year. With EC losing several starting sophomores, 10 new freshman coming in and the loss of sophomore outside hitter Nicole Echeverri, there was expected to be some growing pains. But the Warriors refused to listen to critics and did not miss a beat the entire season.

Now the real challenge begins: playoffs. The competition is about to get much more difficult as the Warriors will be facing teams they have not seen before. But confidence is at an all time high and this group feels as if they can take on anyone, anywhere, anytime.

“We’ll face some big players,” Pattison said. “We just have to keep getting better, tougher and keep showing up.”