RIVERSIDE -- Displaying a balanced attack as four players recorded at least ten kills, the Riverside City College (RCC) Tigers Women's Volleyball team, the No. 15 seed in the California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA) Southern California Regional Playoffs, swept the No. 18-seeded Chaffey College Panthers, 3-0, by the set scores of 25-12, 25-14, 27-25, in a play-in match Saturday evening (Nov. 21) at RCC's historic Arthur N. Wheelock Gymnasium.
The postseason match was RCC's first at home after the first eleven (1-10) were played on the road.
Riverside (16-7 overall) had a little difficulty getting going in the right direction in the first set. The Tigers broke a 4-4 tie and led, 7-4, 11-6 and 14-9 before reeling off a 7-0 run to lead 21-9. Frosh OH Marissa Vialpando (Moreno Valley / Riverside - Notre Dame HS '15) had eight of her match-high 15 kills to lead the Tigers' charge.
In the second set, RCC never trailed with leads of 2-0, 4-1, 7-3, 12-8 and 15-12. Another 7-0 spurt gave the Tigers a 22-12 lead. RCC frosh OH Lauren Wells (Corona / Woodcrest Christian HS '15) had four kills during the run.
The third set proved to be quite a battle as there were 15 ties and five lead changes. Chaffey led, 20-18, before RCC forged a 20-20 tie. The Panthers tied the set at 25-25 before a Panther attack error and a kill by RCC's frosh MB Nyomi Ward (Moreno Valley / Rancho Verde HS '14) sealed the deal for RCC, 27-25. Sophomore OH Amanda Barker (Lake Arrowhead / Rim of the World HS '14) had five kills in the final stanza.
For the Tigers, Vialpando had 15 kills (and nine digs), followed by Ward (13 kills), Wells (11 kills and a team-high 11 digs) and Barker (ten kills). Sophomore setter Melissa Moe (Riverside / Poly HS '14) had a match-high 49 assists.
For Chaffey (19-11 overall), the Foothill Conference (FC) champion, frosh OH Cassidy Boone (Rancho Cucamonga / Los Osos HS) led the Panthers with nine kills. Sophomore setter Taylrt Jordan (Corona / Corona HS) had 15 and frosh setter Alyssa Herrera (Rancho Cucamonga / Etiwanda HS) had 14 assists in the Panthers' two-setter offense. Frosh libero Hanna Sanchez (Claremont / Claremont HS) had a match-high 14 digs.
"We played so balanced," said RCC eighth-year head women's volleyball coach Monica Hayes-Trainer. "Their libero (Sanchez) was incredible. She did a super, super job."
Riverside will next turn its collective attention toward No. 2 Los Angeles Pierce College (25-1). The Tigers will trek to meet the Brahmas on Tuesday, Nov. 24, in a 6 p.m. first service. (Please note corrected start time.)
RCC finished its Orange Empire Conference (OEC) schedule last Wednesday (Nov. 18) with a 3-0 win over the visiting Santa Ana College Dons, by the set scores of 25-16, 25-13, 25-7, at Katharine Huntley Gymnasium.
The sweep over Santa Ana last was the 100th match (among best three-out-of-five matches) victory for Hayes-Trainer. Heading into Tuesday's second-round match at No. 2 Los Angeles Pierce College, Hayes-Trainer's overall record is 101-96.
Saturday's play-in match was Hayes-Trainer's third postseason appearance as RCC's mentor. In 2008, No. 9-seeded RCC lost, 3-2, at No. 8 Bakersfield. In 2010, No. 9-seeded RCC lost, 3-0, at fellow OEC opponent (and No. 8-seeded) Irvine Valley.
Continuing with RCC's playoff history, the Tigers' only previous victory was in 2001 (Nov. 20) when, as a No. 11 seed, they upset host (No. 6 seed) Long Beach City College, 3-1.
This season the Tigers finished in fifth place (8-6) in the perennially strong OEC. Chaffey (9-1 in Foothill, champion) was the FC's only postseason representative.
Editor's note: Through 22 matches (76 sets), Wells continues to lead Riverside in kills (232, 72 sets, 3.22 avg.) by a wide margin and is second in digs (199, 2.76 avg.). Ward is second in Kills (143, 70 sets, 2.04 avg.), Vialpando is third in kills (135, 67 sets, 2.01) and frosh MB Lauren Reed (Redlands / Redlands HS '09 / Cal Baptist U. '15), who did not play Saturday against Chaffey, is fourth in kills (119, 43 sets, 2.77).
Moe leads the Tigers in assists (705, 76 sets, 9.3 avg.), is first in service aces (42, 0.55 avg.) and is third in digs (193, 2.54 avg.). Frosh libero Sabrina Gonzaga leads in digs (270, 71 sets, 3.80 avg.) and is second in service aces (31, 0.44 avg.). Ward leads the Tigers in total blocks (43, 20 solo, 0.74 avg.).