PASADENA — Slowing at times, but never being seriously challenged by its first-round playoff opponent, the Pasadena City College women’s volleyball team had a quick, efficient night overall against visiting Santa Barbara City College at Hutto-Patterson Gymnasium on Tuesday.
The fifth-seeded Lancers won their California Community College Athletic Assn. Southern California Regional opener, 25-20, 25-19, 25-15, behind 13 kills from Noralia To’omalatai and 11 more from Jackie Valle-Acosta. They will next take on fourth-seeded Orange Coast on the road at 6 p.m. on Saturday.
“We’ve been working in practice on playing together and trusting each other as a team,” Lancers sophomore opposite Yanise Joseph (nine kills) said. “We just trusted each other and we got the job done.”
Pasadena (20-4) had the most trouble separating from the No. 12-seeded Vaqueros in the early part of the first game and down the stretch of the second.
The Lancers led by just two points, 16-14, in the first game before going on a 7-1 run to get some breathing room. The game ended on a spike by To’omalatai that was too hot to handle.
In the second game, Pasadena got off to an early lead behind a five-point service run from To’omalatai and led by as many as seven, 17-10, but saw Santa Barbara come back to get within 23-19. Valle-Acosta gave the Lancers game point with a kill and Joseph followed with a game-clinching kill one play later.
“We played well; I didn’t feel like we had a lot of energy throughout, from beginning to end, but I thought some players stepped up,” Lancers Coach Tammy Silva said. “I thought we made some good defensive plays and we served aggressive.”
Serving played a big role in Pasadena pulling out to a giant lead in the third game, as To’omalatai reeled off six straight in a run that included four aces.
“We started serving with confidence and it wasn’t the get-it-over-the-net type serve,” Silva said.
Santa Barbara looked ready to make another late run when it was 16-12, but this time the Lancers removed all suspense.
Megan Callen notched a kill to begin a 4-0 run that ended on two straight big swings from Valle-Acosta, one for a kill, the other ricocheting hard off the dig attempt of a Vaquero.
To’omalatai put down a kill to make it 21-14 and begin a 5-0 run to end the match.
“We’ve struggled in the past with taking it four or five [games] with teams that are not as good as some of other competitors,” Joseph said. “We definitely got it done tonight.”