Women’s volleyball cruises into second round of regionals

After earning a slew of awards for their performance in the regular season, Pierce College’s women’s volleyball team defeated Rio Hondo College in straight sets in their first playoff match Tuesday, earning their 61st consecutive victory.

The Brahmas won three games of three (25-11, 25-12, 25-16), ending Rio Hondo’s first time back to the playoffs in 17 years.

Heading into the second round of the playoffs with 61 consecutive wins behind him, head coach Nabil Mardini said he will keep his team’s eyes on the road ahead.

“It’s playoffs now. It’s a brand new season,” Mardini said. “We won conference, but that’s not our goal. Our goal is to win the whole thing.”

Sophomore Danetta Boykin, named this season’s Most Valuable Player of the Western State Conference and AVCA First Team All-American, hammered down 11 kills.

First Team All-Conference and AVCA Second Team All-American opposite hitter Sakurako Fujii had 10 kills, and First Team All-Conference setter Janelle Futch, who led the conference with 888 assists, had 30 assists and six aces.

Freshman middle and opposite hitter Ashlea Smith, who led the conference with 40 solo blocks, said the team has a strong work ethic.

“Nothing’s going to stop us if we keep working hard and keep working together,” Smith said. “I think we take a lot of pride in what we do and how hard we work.”

Rio Hondo’s head coach Teddi Esko said that the Brahmas reputation might have played a part in the game.

“My girls came into the game a little bit intimidated,” Esko said. “Credit to Pierce, they’re an unbelievable team.”

Esko said that Pierce showed her team something they hadn’t seen before.

“I’m really glad that we at least had the opportunity to play them,” Esko said. “We didn’t see that kind of competition at any time during our season.”

Second Team All-Conference libero Brooke Dawson, who led the conference with 310 digs and picked up 12 at Tuesday’s match, said her team’s work ethic comes in part from heeding their coach.

“We didn’t get complacent at all throughout the match,” Dawson said. “Like our coach says, ‘the only people who are going to be ourselves are ourselves.’”

The Brahmas will go on to play the winner of Tuesday night’s match between El Camino College and Irvine Valley College on Saturday at 7 p.m.in South Gym.

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