The SBCC women’s volleyball team lost its first five matches of the season.
It finally got its first win under new head coach Kat Niksto in game six against Canyons in four sets.
Since then, the Vaqueros have been a much more balanced team, totaling a record of 5-6 coming into Wednesday’s WSC conference game against L.A. Mission.
SBCC (7-11, 3-3), who swept L.A. Mission the first time it faced them, came into the match thinking it would be a repeat performance.
Instead, the Eagles (5-10, 1-4) gave the Vaqueros all it could handle, jumping out to a 2-0 lead before the Vaqueros rallied over the final three sets to win in five with scores of 22-25, 22-25, 25-23, 25-23, 15-6.
“We knew we were going to be young and inexperienced, but you always hope that you kind of continue to improve throughout the season and it was really our mission to win the matches we had already won against the team we beat earlier in the season,” Niksto said.
SBCC was able to accomplish that mission on Wednesday thanks in large part to freshman Gabi Brewer who led the team in kills with 13 kills.
Brewer was also a force on defense with a slew of blocks as well as adding a team-high five service aces.
“I was just focused on moving it around. My serve was just harder since we’ve been practicing serving a lot in practice recently, and like practicing zones so I felt more confident tonight,” Brewer said.
Helping out Brewer offensively was middle blocker Madi Mullins who tallied 10 kills of her own on the night.
In fact, it was Mullins who got the Vaquero offense started in the first set as she notched two kills as SBCC jumped out to a 6-1 lead.
SBCC would lead 13-7 before L.A. Mission ripped off eight of the next 10 points to tie the match at 15-15.
Now at 17-17, sophomore libero Ashley Tapia hit back-to-back aces to give her team a two-point advantage. Freshman outside hitter Leslie Ruano would then hit two aces of her own, as L.A. mission tallied six total in the frame, to give the Eagles a 23-19 lead. An attack error by SBCC would give the road team the first set win.
In the second frame, the Vaqueros’ low energy would continue to plague them. Overall, the set would feature 12 ties, but usually, it would be SBCC catching up and then failing to convert on an opportunity to take the lead.
Down 22-20, SBCC tallied two straight to tie the match, but a kill from Audrey Altamiranom, an ace from Tapia and a final kill from Aurea Baltazar gave L.A. Mission a two-set lead.
In the second set, the Eagles added four more service aces.
“The energy was just really low. We didn’t come out sharp and that’s why they were able to take advantage of us,” freshman middle blocker Jordan Falconer said.
After being down 2-0, Falconer said she was the one who was upset and pleaded with the team to give more effort come the third set.
“Honestly, the team was a little bit down because we were losing and our energy was bad and I noticed it so I really wanted to hype everyone up and try to make everyone want it as bad as I did,” Falconer said.
Falconer said she focused on supporting her teammates through every point and she could feel the difference in body language.
The team’s play was also much better on the court as in the third set, SBCC jumped out to a 14-4 lead. Mullins and Brewer combined for five of the team’s first 14 points.
Things would not stay so dominant as L.A. Mission would tie the match at 18-18 and the teams would trade points back and forth, but with the score at 23-23, the Vaqueros got a kill from Falconer and then an ace from libero Bella Brandt to extend the match.
Much of the same happened in the fourth set as SBCC went up 16-7 early. Up 23-17, the set looked over, but L.A. Mission six of the next seven points to be down just one.
Brewer then put away a kill to give her team the 25-23 set win.
In the final set, once again SBCC got up early, but this time did not have any drama towards the end. Up 7-3, the Vaqueros scored eight of the final 11 points to seal the match victory.
It was the first five-set win for SBCC this season.
“We pulled through in the end, came together as a team and that was really rewarding,” Falconer said.
The final kill of the night came from Falconer who said: “it was an amazing feeling to do that for my team at the end.”
“They just finally had their backs against the wall today. I told the girls I hope this is a wake-up call for them…,” Niksto said.
“But it was nice to see him grind it out you know. It’s all a growing process and they definitely grew a little bit today.”
Official stats were not able to be available at the time of press due to the fact SBCC’s statisticians fractured their leg and coach Niksto could not keep track of the stats passed the second set.
SBCC will travel to face Ventura at 6 p.m. on Wednesday.