Women’s volleyball trying to find “fiery mentality”

With the temperature reaching the high 90s and the blistering sun scorching across the valley, the air conditioned Pierce College gym seemed like an ideal place to get cool. But the heat was on inside as well, with Saddleback College threatening to pull off a come from behind victory over the Santa Monica College Corsairs women’s volleyball team.

SMC had taken the first two sets of their match against the Gauchos, but they took their foot off the gas and allowed Saddleback to get right back into it as the Gauchos won two straight sets to force a deciding fifth set.

The Corsairs, however, were having none of it as they were able to regroup and beat Saddleback in the fifth set by a score of 15-10, winning their only match of the two day Pierce Invitational tournament.

Just like with their match against the Gauchos, SMC struggled late in sets to close out other teams as they lost to both Pasadena City College and Palomar College in their earlier matches.

“We were in control and we just couldn’t close it out,” said head coach Nicole Ryan on the team’s earlier games.  “I think it’s a lack of confidence, we just didn’t have any.”

Coming into the tournament, which is in its third year, the Corsairs brought with them a 2-2 record and a shuffling lineup.

They currently have two players out and are looking around at the remaining members of the team as to who will step up and fill the void.

“We’ve been trying out different lineups, obviously having two players out affects us,” said Ryan.  “But it’s no excuse, others need to step up.”

In an earlier match against the Palomar College Comets, the Corsairs fell behind and were on the verge of losing the set, with the Comets ahead 24-18.  Despite being down, SMC almost pulled out some come from behind magic of their own with a fierce rally, tying the set up at 24 all.

However, the Comets held strong and fended off SMC, winning all three sets as the Corsairs struggled to find some late game heroics.

Despite the initial losses against Pasadena and Palomar, the Corsairs looked energized and eager to avenge their earlier defeats, taking it out on Saddleback College.

Led by the brilliant play up at the net by middle blockers Justyce Smith and Michelle Smith, and outside hitter Hannah Pope, combined with the overall leadership of team captain Bianca Ngo, the Corsairs managed to fend off the feisty Gauchos and salvage what would have been a disappointing tournament showing, giving the fans who showed up something to cheer about.

Heading into their next match against the Ventura College Pirates at home on Sept. 26, Ryan would like to see a different kind of mindset.

“Right now we don’t have that fiery mentality, that’s what we need to finish games.  We’ve got to get it.”