THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Fans in attendance at Friday night’s volleyball game between Cal Lutheran and Occidental could have sworn they were watching a replay of the match three weeks ago when Cal Lutheran dropped the first set to the Tigers but rallied to win the next three.
“It was carbon-copy of the first game,” head coach Kellee Roesel said.
This time Cal Lutheran spotted Occidental the first set and then rallied to win an exciting second set 28-26.
“It was amazing volleyball out there. Two good teams; rivals playing, that’s what is all about,” Roesel said. “The unfortunate part was someone had to lose, but I felt the tide totally changed after the second set.”
Cal Lutheran defeated Occidental 3-1 (22-25, 28-26, 25-17, 25-16).
The Regals are winners of their last six matches, despite hitting .205 as team in their last four. After the last four, coach Roesel says the reason for her team’s success is “character.”
“It’s amazing with all these young kids playing too. It’s kind of a gamble to see them out there and how they are going to react, but I’m so proud of the young kids and the leadership we showed tonight.”
Leading the way for the Regals was Kylie McLogan, who was playing her first full game in two weeks. She finished with 20 kills and 23 digs. Allie Eason finished second with 16 kills and 17 digs while Pua Mo’okini-Oliveria and Lauren Rohach had nine kills apiece.
Setter Jena Chavez dished out 39 assists and had one of her best defensive performances, tallying 21 digs. Chavez was not alone defensively as Cal Lutheran had four others with 15 or more digs. Joining McLogan, Eason, and Chavez was Rachel Smith, who had 22 digs while Kennedy Peters had 17.
The first set saw Cal Lutheran race out to a 9-3 lead although they were unable to hold it. The teams were deadlocked at 20-20 before a CLU net violation and an Occidental solo block pushed the Tigers ahead for good, finishing the set 25-22.
Cal Lutheran began its rally in the second set. In what seemed liked long rally after long rally and maybe the set of the year in the SCIAC, neither team could separate themselves by more than a point until it was 24-24. In bizarre moment, CLU looked as if it had taken control with a kill only to see the officials replay the point, stating neither official saw if the ball was in.
Undeterred, Cal Lutheran benefited from an Occidental service error to tie the game at 26-26. An Eason kill to put the Regals up one, and CLU finally broke through when McLogan tipped it over the net for the set’s decisive point.
With the momentum and a little boost from the football team in the stands, Cal Lutheran cruised through the next two sets, 25-17 and 25-16, to take the game 3-1.
Leading Occidental were Logan Boyer-Hayse and Madyson Cassidy. Boyer-Hayse had 12 kills and 27 digs while Cassidy dug out 33 balls from her libero position.
“We made some errors early on for whatever reason,” Roesel said. “But I tell the kids if you’re going to make mistakes, the best time to make them is in the first set.”
Cal Lutheran weathered the storm and improved to 18-4 overall and 9-1 in the SCIAC. The loss drops Occidental to 14-6 overall and 7-5 in the SCIAC.
The Regals are back in action next Tuesday, Oct. 16, with conference-championship implications on the line as they travel to La Verne to take on the first place Leopards. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m.
Box Score: CLU 3, OXY 1