TORRANCE, Calif. – For the second straight year and third time in four seasons, El Camino College punched its ticket to the California Community College Athletics Association Women's Volleyball State Championships after downing Moorpark 3-1 (26-24, 17-25, 25-23, 25-23) Saturday night at the ECC South Gym.
The No. 4 Warriors (23-5) got double-doubles from sophomores Mikayla Clark and Caitlin Donatucci and the defense had 88 digs with five players recording double figures in the victory. Clark led all players with 19 kills and added 17 digs on the night while Donatucci added 38 assist and 11 digs. Kelly Donatucci led the defense with 26 digs with Cassidy Crosby and Jessica Villasenor adding 13 digs apiece.
For the Raiders (16-4), Megan Wall led the offense with 18 kills with Janessa Valoaga adding 15 kills and Lily Karamanukyan recording 14 kills in the loss. Lea Raha dished out 42 assists and Whitney Guthrie had 24 digs.
The Warriors pulled out the victory despite hitting just .105 as a team. The defense and service game proved pivotal as ECC tallied eight service aces with just one error while Moorpark committed six service errors. The Raiders also recorded 17 blocks (five solo) as a team but three blocking errors helped the Warriors cause on the night.
In the first set, the teams were tied six times as neither team ever led by more than three points in the frame. Ginia Goods' kill late in the set made it 24-21 to give ECC three set points. But the Raiders fought off two of those points with kills from Wall and Karamanukyan. Eleanna Laba then recorded a service ace to lock the set up at 24-24. The Warriors would prevail though as Clark recorded her eighth kill of the set and then her lone ace of the match sealed the set to give ECC a 1-0 lead.
The Warriors jumped out to an early lead in the second and Crosby opened the frame with four consecutive aces for a 4-0 lead. The Warriors would lead 10-3 in the set and seemed poised to take a 2-0 lead in the match, but the Raiders stormed back and outscored ECC 22-7 the rest of the way to tie the match. The Raiders hammered down 14 kills in the set with just two errors, their best attacking percentage in any set. The Warriors, meanwhile, committed nine attacking errors and had their lowest percentage of the match in the second.
The third set was the tightest of the entire match as the squads were tied nine times and traded the lead twice. The Warriors led 18-14 for the biggest advantage of the set but the Raiders would tie things up at 20-20. With the scored tied 23-23, the Warriors took the lead on a service error by Moorpark and then an attacking error by Karamanukyan sealed the win and a 2-1 lead for ECC.
In the final set, the Warriors never trailed and led by as much as seven points. The Raiders would claw back to cut the deficit to two at 23-21. Jocelyn Lacroix would net a kill to give ECC three match points, but the Raiders continued to fight as they erased two of those points with kills from Wall. But the Raiders errors haunted them one last time as a set from Amanda Romain sailed over the net and out of bounds to clinch the match for ECC.
The Warriors will take on Fresno on Friday in the state quarterfinals hosted at Southwestern College in Chula Vista, Calif. First serve is set for 4 p.m.