Taft College wins in four sets

Taft College got a solid team effort Wednesday night on the home floor for a 3-1 victory over College of the Sequoias that kept the Cougars in second place in the Central Valley Conference volleyball race.

The 25-22, 25-17, 24-26, 25-16 victory pushed the Cougars’ marks to 5-1 in the conference and 12-4 overall.  The Giants dipped to 3-3, 4-10.

Next up for the Cougars is perennial conference kingpin Fresno City College tonight in Fresno. 

The Rams are ranked No. 3 in northern California and No. 7 in the state.

“They’ve got a couple of dominating players,” said head coach Kanoe Bandy.

  Leading the way for the Rams is sophomore outside hitter Valarie Gobby, who has 134 kills and 219 digs.  She also is solid at the serving line with 163 points and 20 aces.

And, what scares Bandy even more is that Gobby has an impressive supporting cast.

The Rams are 6-0 in the conference – all sweeps.  Eleven of their 13 wins have been sweeps.

TC sophomore Tiffany Mapusaga, a 5-foot-5 outside hitter, has solid numbers, too: 148 kills and 163 digs.

She set the pace for the Cougars in the win over Sequoias with 19 kills and 11 digs.

Risha Alaiasa contributed 12 kills, 8 digs and 2 blocks.

Setter Kaylynn Palama tossed up 41 assists and led the team with 16 digs.

Chelsea Wong had 10 kills and 14 digs and chipped in 3 blocks, Maeleen Hopeau added 7 kills and led the team with 6 blocks, Tara Kelley and Lani Kaiwi both had 7 digs, and Haley Walrath, Mapusaga and Palama all had a block apiece.

Bandy liked the overall team effort but “we missed a lot of serves and need to keep working on that.”

The Cougars seemed on the verge of a sweep after taking the first two sets, but the Giants eked out a win in the third.  They feasted on kills off of short middle sets.

“In game 3 we didn’t adjust to their short serve,” Bandy said.

COS got off to a strong start, leading through most of the first game.  The Giants were up by five at 18-13 but the Cougars kept chipping away, pulled even at 19 on a kill by Hopeau and went ahead for good on Alaiasa’s kill.  She finished off the set with an ace.

Alaiasa also was instrumental in finishing off the final set with two hard kills.

Tonight’s match in Fresno puts finishing touches on the first half of conference action.  TC travels to Sonora next Tuesday to open the second half against Columbia College