Regals Rally for Five-Set Win

CLU fends off Whittier in five sets Friday night.

Erika Smith had a season-high 15 digs against Whittier Friday night.

Photo: Tracy Maple

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Already down two sets to one and facing a 17-13 Poet lead, the Cal Lutheran volleyball team dug deep and rallied to win the set and take the fifth game to defeat Whittier 3-2 (15-25, 25-19,22-25, 25-22, 15-8) Saturday night in Gilbert Arena. It marked the third time the Regals have gone to five sets in SCIAC games this season, winning all three.

The first set saw Whittier capitalize on 11 Regal hitting errors, dropping CLU easily 25-15.

Cal Lutheran would battle back in the second frame, taking it 25-19 thanks to three kills apiece from Caitlin Fransen and Hannah Orlandi.

The Regals would gain an early 4-1 lead in the third set but would go on to drop eight of the next nine points. Whittier would build their lead to 20-16 but Allie Eason kept CLU in it with three miraculous digs on consecutive plays to get the Regals back to 21-19. However, Whittier outside hitter Alyssa Sialaris, who had a game-high 26 kills, was simply too much down the stretch, hammering down the final two kills as the Poets closed it out 25-22.

In the fourth set, it looked as if Whittier would finish off Cal Lutheran jumping out to 17-13 lead. But Coach Roesel took a gamble by inserting the SCIAC kills leader, Kylie McLogan, who had yet to play in the match and had missed the past three games due to injury. The gamble paid off as McLogan would calm a shaky CLU squad and fire off four kills in the game’s final seven points and allowed CLU to take the set and the momentum into the fifth and final set.

Coach Roesel discussed the immediate impact McLogan had, “With our two captains being out recently [Jackie Russell and McLogan], this team has tried to find new leaders on the floor. But as soon as Kylie stepped on the court, it felt like everybody took a step back and said, ‘Okay, now we’re ready to go.’” Roesel continued, “And I think that speaks volumes to what type of leader Kylie is and the impact she has on this team.”

With momentum on their side, the Regals climbed to a 6-1 early lead due in part to a Kennedy Peters service ace and a big kill from McLogan. Whittier would never get it closer than five as CLU cruised to a fifth-set win.

Leading the way offensively for CLU was Allie Eason who had 15 kills. Lauren Rohach had 10, Shannon Pearson had eight and McLogan finished with six kills in little over a set.

Setter Jena Chavez finished with 32 assists.

Defensively, Cal Lutheran had four players go over double-digit digs. Erika Smith led with 15 while Chavez and Eason had 14. Rachel Smith finished third on the team with 13.

“Erika Smith had a good game for us tonight. She’s probably played the most volleyball out of any of our players so when she plays instinctively like she did tonight, rather than trying to think too much or worry about our strategy, she plays her strongest and that’s what happened tonight,” Roesel said.

With the win, Cal Lutheran improves to 15-4 overall and 7-1 in the SCIAC. The Regals are now one game-behind La Verne (8-1) for the SCIAC lead. The loss drops Whittier to 7-10 and 2-6 in the SCIAC.

Cal Lutheran rounds out their non-conference schedule Saturday evening (Oct. 6) when they take on nationally-rated Juniata College (Pa.) at 6:00 p.m. in Gilbert Arena.

Box Score: CLU 3 WC 2