Playing without two starters, the Cerritos College volleyball team battled back and defeated visiting East Los Angeles College, 26-24, 13-25, 23-25, 25-17, 15-13 in their South Coast Conference opener. The Falcons will now host El Camino College at 6:00 p.m. on Friday.
After splitting the first two sets, the Huskies (6-7, 0-1) escaped with a win in the third set, which put Cerritos in a must-win situation. The Falcons trailed, 24-19 in the third set and then fought back to get to within 24-23 after a pair of kills from sophomore Sierra Hernandez-Hardy (Bishop Amat HS) and a pair of attack errors by East Los Angeles. However, Samantha Fierro recorded her lone kill of the match to take the third set for East LA, and a 2-1 sets lead.
The teams battled in the fourth set until midway through when Cerritos started scoring multiple points at a time. In each of the five sets, there were long rallies with both teams coming up with huge defensive plays to extend the point. Using their entire bench, the Falcons received a kill from freshman Gladys Garcia (Elizabeth Learning Center HS) to help the team start pulling away in the fourth set. The Huskies provided four of the final six points for the Falcons with attack errors, which forced a fifth and deciding set.
After allowing the first point of the fifth set, Cerritos took the lead and never relinquished it until closing out the match. Sophomore Madison Wybenga (Valley Christian HS) picked up her lone kill of the match to put the team up, 3-2, while a pair of kills from Hernandez-Hardy, as well as sophomore setter Mirka Granoble (Downey HS) kill put Cerritos up, 9-6. They maintained their three-point lead after an attack error and Garca kill. Two Cerritos attack errors closed the match to 14-13 until a bad set by the Huskies closed out the match.
Hernandez-Hardy had a busy night, as she was set 70 times and turned that into 18 kills, while sophomore Alexia Torres (Downey HS) contributed 10 kills. Granoble (31 assists, 15 digs) and sophomore Brooke Winquist (Carlsbad International School, Czechia) each produced four kills, while freshman Marissa Reyna (Norwalk HS) took over the libero duties and posted 25 digs. Winquist (16 digs) and freshman Andrea Garcia (Bellflower HS), who had 12 digs, contributed to the win, with Garcia, Wybenga, Stephanie Malouf (Cerritos HS), Lindsay Armenta (Bellflower HS) and Aliyah Hayes (Western HS) all playing a role off the bench for the Falcons.
Photos by Daryl Peterson
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