Cougars defeat De Anza College in three sets

Taft College swept DeAnza College of Cupertino Wednesday afternoon in a non-conference volleyball match played in the Cougar Sports Center.

A sweep seems decisive, but this one was anything but.

Each of the three games was a point-for-point struggle with neither team capturing much in the way of momentum.
“It really was a weird match,” said Cougar head coach Kanoe Bandy after watching her team score 25-23, 25-22 and 25-21 victories to run TC’s record to 4-3.

In each of the sets, the Cougars managed to ease ahead in the late going.

In the deciding third set, neither team led by more than two points until freshman middle blocker Brittany Peterson stuffed an attack by the Dons that gave Taft a 21-18 lead.

A DeAnza hitting error pushed the lead to four, a Tina Pulu service ace made it a five-point cushion, and the Cougars closed out the match.

DeAnza opened up an 8-4 lead in the first set, but it tightened up quickly and stayed that way until the Cougars had a 24-20 edge on a dink by setter Michelle Hardy.  However, the Dons scored the next three to draw within one before Morgan Blair finished it off with a cross-court slam.

TC’s 7-1 run to open the second set quickly evaporated, and the teams locked in another standoff until the fifth tie (19-all) was broken by a DeAnza service error.  The Cougars maintained a 2-3 point lead until Blair again applied the finishing touches with a down-the-middle kill.

She led the team with 10 kills and 16 defensive digs.

“Overall, we did not play well,” Bandy said.  “We certainly didn’t play like we did last Saturday in the (San Joaquin Delta) tournament.  I don’t know whether we can do it back-to-back.  I’m afraid that may be the story of our life.”

Kelcey Viliamu finished just behind Blair in kills with nine, Tina Pulu and Janine Orosco each had seven and Peterson three.

Hardy had 11 digs to go with her 31 assists, Orosco had nine and Pulu five.

Peterson finished with four blocks.

Hardy also paced TC at the service line with 17-of-17 for 11 points and a pair of aces.  Pulu was 14-of-14 for eight points and an ace, and Blair 10-of-10 for three points.

The Cougars will have a week to prepare for the Central Valley Conference opener next Wednesday at Merced College.  The next home match will be a week later when Reedley comes to town.