Gauchos find themselves at No. 7 in state rankings

Freshman outside hitter Natalee Gray goes with her opposite hand in an attempt to save a dead ball (Colin Reef/Lariat)

Freshman outside hitter Natalee Gray goes with her opposite hand in an attempt to save a dead ball. (Colin Reef/Lariat)

The Saddleback women’s volleyball team has officially been ranked No. 7 in the most recent state rankings. The California Community College Women’s Volleyball Coaches Association issued their statement this last Monday. The last time they earned a ranking this high was in 1998 when they finished 24-6 and lost in the state championship.

During the course of the season, Saddleback has set the program record for consecutive sweeps in five-set matches (6) and now sits in a tie for third place in the Orange Empire Conference standings.They put their new ranking to the test on Wednesday when they played the Santiago Canyon Hawks and Friday against the Cypress College Chargers.

The Gauchos refuse to give up on a rally with Santiago Canyon. Middle blocker Courtney Rose and opposite hitter Mackenzie Alexander side out on a block. (Colin Reef/Lariat)

The Gauchos refuse to give up on a rally with Santiago Canyon. Middle blocker Courtney Rose and opposite hitter Mackenzie Alexander side out on a block. (Colin Reef/Lariat)

The Gauchos made quick work of Santiago Canyon winning all three of their sets by a score of (25-18, 25-16, 25-21). The Gauchos new ranking had ignited a spark in their offense throughout the three sets.

“Their energy was exactly what I had hoped for going into this one,” head coach Brian Hughes said before the game. “I want these ladies to focus on their targets, stay calm and play with energy.”

Leading the charge was the freshman opposite hitter Helena Lawson and freshman outside hitter Michelle Solt. They each had half a dozen kills in their impressive match against the Hawks. Freshman starting setter Kiana Camargo played fabulously as well. Half of her assists were outside hitters Solt and Lawson.

“The girls look like they’re really having a great time out there together,” Father of Kiana Camargo said after the game. “They’re communicating really well and executing all their assignments so it’s a real pleasure to watch.”

After an easy win for the Gauchos they found a much more competitive team in the Cypress Chargers. The Gauchos high morale wasn’t enough to suppress the Chargers electric play on the court for the final score of that game on Friday was (25-17, 12-25, 25-23, 25-23). These two games put them at an overall record of 11-6 and 4-2 in the Orange Empire Conference.

Outside hitter Kendall Nolan and middle blocker Avie Butsko put the brakes on a kill attempt from their opponent. (Colin Reef/Lariat)

Outside hitter Kendall Nolan and middle blocker Avie Butsko put the brakes on a kill attempt from their opponent. (Colin Reef/Lariat)

Middle blockers for the Gauchos Courtney Rose, Avie Butsko and Keara O’Brien Pol had a tough time against outside hitters for the Chargers, Khamis Berneker and Brianna Johnson.

Missed blocks and late reactions on the net made it relatively easy for the two Chargers to receive better opportunities to kill the ball and score points.

Berneker led the Chargers with 16 kills while Johnson was not too far behind her with 8 kills on target. With so many service aces and kill shots it was hard for the Gauchos to keep up in the final two sets.

“We just couldn’t react quick enough,” Hughes said. “We were out hustled by a team who showed up to play. There’s not really much more I could have asked of the girls. They tried their hardest and that’s all I can ask for.”

They look to redeem themselves next week when they take on The Riverside City College Tigers on Wed. at 6:00 p.m. and the Golden West College Rustlers on Fri. at 6:00 p.m. For more information on the state rankings follow this link: 

The California Community College Women’s Volleyball Coaches Association

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