COSTA MESA, Calif. – Kicking off Golden State Athletic Conference play, Vanguard (3-6, 1-0) faced off against Orange County rival Hope International (6-4, 0-1). So far this season, the Lions have had seven contests go into the fifth set and on this occasion the Blue and Gold were victorious winning the match 3-2 (18-25,25-23,25-11,25-27,10-15). The Royals received votes in the Coaches' Top 25 Poll last week for the first time in program history as each club had a big time upset in preseason play.
The "second season" of play began in the friendly confines of The Pit as the Pride played in front of a lively crowd who grew more engaged and vocal as each set ticked by. The first set was the best combined offensive outing of the day for both sides of the net as HIU tallied 14 kills and .324 hitting while the Lions slotted in with 13 kills and .367 attacking/ But the visitors took the first set manly due to a stretch of four consecutive errors by the Lions.
Sliding into the second frame, the Blue and Gold knew it needed to even things up right away and they grinded their way to a 25-23 victory with both teams very close in hitting once again. Although the Royals tallied 15 kills to only 12 for VU, the hitting percentages were within .005 of each other. The crucial third set saw the Pride come out and start clicking on all cylinders. The 14 point blowout came part to 16 kills on only 25 attempts for the home bench while the visitors tallied more errors than kills.
The Lions saw the clinching set within reach, but as the set started rolling by the Royals had grasped control. A late rally saw the Lions have a few cracks at match point, but HIU fought back and took the frame in extra points 27-25. With a fifth and shortened set forced, the Blue and Gold were ready to rewrite the early season narrative which saw them fall at this juncture prior. The last set was tightly contested with scores of 8-7 and 10-10 showing on the scoreboard. Then in a fitting finish, Vanguard went on a 5-0 rally to win the match capped off by four straight point serves from Kylie Garrett (FR/Ladera Ranch, CA) including two service aces.
For the match the Lions had 60 kills and 17 errors on 176 attempts equaling a .244 hitting average. For the Royals across those same splits it was 55/26/188/.154. The Lions owned the defensive part of the net combining for 18 team blocks including nine block assists from Hailey Gordon (JR/San Diego, CA) to only six block assists for the entire Royals team. The setting duo of Garrett (25 assists) and Kirstin Trabert (SO/Corona, CA) with 23 assists led the way in the 6-2 offensive system. Four Lions were put into double digit kills led by a team high 15 from Shaylen Larson-Piper (JR/Elizabeth, CO) at a .289 percent clip. Taylor Jackson (SR/Las Vegas, NV) tallied 14 kills with Juanae Johnson (SR/Santa Monica, CA) slotting in third with 11 successful attacks at a .333% rate. Kamelah Noel (SO/Portland, OR) rounded things out with 10 kills on 39 tries. Rebecca Lowden (JR/Glendora, CA) was one of four Lions to get to 10 or more digs as she finished with 28. Sam Rice (SO/Temecula, CA) ended with 16 digs, 13 recorded by Lindsey Ng (SO/Honolulu, HI), and 10 from Garrett.
Next Match: Friday, September 15th at 7:00 p.m. against William Jessup University