THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – For the second day in a row, the No. 8 Cal Lutheran volleyball team was taken to five sets and once again they remained victorious, defeating No. 21 Juniata in a 3-2 (22-25, 25-16, 25-18, 22-25, 15-11) thriller Saturday night in Gilbert Arena.
“With this team we thrive on being under pressure,” sophomore setter Jena Chavez said. “We never get mentally down and embrace being in a five-set match and that’s what has been getting us through.” CLU is now 5-1 in five set matches this year.
Although initially, some CLU supporters wondered if the Regals would get that far as CLU fell behind early in the first set to Juniata and never really recovered as the Eagles had 13 kills in the frame and took the initial set.
Shannon Pearson and Lauren Rohach would guide the comeback in the second set with Pearson having seven kills on nine swings and Rohach chipping in with four kills on just five swings. Jena Chavez dished out 15 assists in the set alone. The Regals would go on to hit .311 as team in the set and take the second game 25-16.
Allie Eason was the story of the third set as she drilled home six kills including the play of the game that saw Eason dive after a ball and hit a no-look cross-court winner to put the Regals up for good at 10-6. They would go on to win the set 25-18.
Nine attacking errors plagued Cal Lutheran in the fourth set as Juniata gutted out a hard-fought 25-22 win.
After CLU got out to a quick 5-1 lead in the fifth, Juniata showed no quit winning five of the next seven points to pull to 7-6. Just as she did the night before, Coach Roesel inserted All-American outside hitter Kylie McLogan, who had yet to play in the game, and McLogan came through bashing home three kills to put CLU at game-point. A Pearson put-back kill would win the set and the match for Cal Lutheran.
CLU was led offensively by Pearson who had 18 kills.
“Our passing was just there tonight, the sets were just right and it gave us an opportunity to put the ball down,” said Pearson.
Besides leading statistically, Pearson has also expanded her leadership on the court for her teammates, “Since we have a lot of new girls on the court, Rachel [Smith] and I have really tried to lead by example and be the steady players out there for the girls that don’t have as much experience.”
Pearson was able to have her big numbers because of a career-night from Chavez, who had a career-high 55 assists. “I think even though I had that many assists, most of the credit should go to the passers and hitters, they’re the ones that are making me look good,” Chavez said. “But with this team it’s never about me or any single person, it’s always about the team first so everybody deserves as much credit as I do.”
With the win, the Regals improve to 16-4 overall and remain 7-1 in the SCIAC. Juniata drops to 16-8 after going 2-1 on their California road trip. CLU returns to action next when they host Pomona-Pitzer next Tuesday Oct. 9, at 7:30 p.m. in Gilbert Arena.
Box Score: CLU 3 Juniata 2