No. 7 City College gets defensive, sweeps No. 17 Ventura College

From left, Karoline Ruiz gets ready to spike the ball over the net as Emma Crabbe sets the ball for her during their game against Ventura College on Oct. 6 at City College in Santa Barbara, Calif. The City College Vaqueros swept the Ventura Pirates 3-0.

Eric Evelhoch, Sports Editor

Before their most recent practice, the City College women’s volleyball team held a “goal meeting,” reaffirming their aims at a conference title and, more immediately, winning their next match in a sweep.

The No. 7 Vaqueros (13-2, 2-0) accomplished their short-term goal and notched an eighth-straight win 3-0 over No. 17 Ventura College (10-3, 2-1) on Wednesday night at the Sports Pavilion.

“I was most proud of them because we played close through each set, but for the last five points of each set we dominated,” head coach Kat Niksto said.

After trailing by as much as five points, and falling behind by four points three times in the opening set, City College looked to their identity to turn things around.

“We’re a hardworking team that’s led by our defense,” freshman libero Jacelin McKie said. 

“When we’re down by a few points our defense really brings us back up, our offense helps as well but our defense is really what carries us through games.”

Back-to-back service aces by freshman setter Emma Crabbe pulled the team’s level at 18-18, with freshman opposite Caroline McCarty notching three kills on the final six Vaquero points to secure the 26-24 win in set one.

“For better or worse, we’ve played from down several times this season, and we’re very confident in our ability to come back,” Niksto said.

The middle set was much closer, with the teams tied 15 separate times. Freshmen middle blocks Paige Rudi and Karoline Ruiz played critical roles in keeping it close, combining for nine kills and a pair of blocks. City College pulled away for a 25-21 win by scoring the last four points.

“Once we started pressing over the net more, getting our hands over and making sure we have a strong front we were able to do a lot better,” Rudi said.

In the third set, Rudi and Ruiz once again loomed large by combining for seven kills. Freshman opposite Bella Johnson notched seven kills herself and freshman outside hitter Piper Ellbogn-Petersen had a key late putaway. 

The Vaqueros secured the sweep by scoring six of the final eight points for a 25-21 set final.

“You want to have confidence in your ability to finish things without giving teams second chances,” Niksto said.

City College travels to Rio Hondo College for a non-conference game Friday at 6 p.m. They return to the Sports Pavilion next Wednesday to face No. 10 Moorpark College in conference action at 6 p.m.