Cougars fall in three sets

PORTERVILLE –Porterville College’s balance once again was too much for Taft College to overcome here Friday as the Pirates swept the Cougars in a Central Valley Conference volleyball match.

It was the second time the Pirates swept TC and broke a second place tie between the two.  Porterville is ranked 7th in northern California and 16th in the state.  TC is ranked 12th in northern California.

The Cougars (7-3 CVC, 14-6 overall) will try to get back on the winning track Wednesday when they travel to Merced (3-7, 7-12).

“We were off our game a little but played better than we did the first time,” said head coach Kanoe Bandy.

“The first time we played them their offense killed us, but this time I think their defense was outstanding.  We swung a lot of balls that they dug, and we didn’t adjust to get them off balance.  We had no middle attack at all, and they exploited that.”

The scores at Porterville were 25-20, 25-19 and 25-9.

The Cougars battled in the first two sets but wilted in the third under consistently solid play from the Pirates’ big front line.

TC got off to a slow start in the first set, falling behind by 13 points (21-8) before going on 5-0 and 4-0 runs to close the gap, but the Cougars just couldn’t overcome the early deficit.

The Cougars jumped out to a 4-0 start in game two before giving up four straight points.  It was tied six times – the last one at 12-all before the Pirates edged ahead and stayed there.

TC closed it to 20-18 after libero Lani Kaiwi had a rare kill from the back row, but a service error led to a 3-0 Pirate run the Cougars couldn’t overcome.

Porterville roared out to a 14-2 lead in the third set and never looked back.

“We just didn’t show up for that one,” Bandy said, a set that set the tone for this week’s practice.

“This week we will work on what it means to fight, to be aggressive,” she said.

As expected, the numbers individually were not impressive.

Leading attacker Tiffany Mapusaga had just 8 kills although she had 34 attempts.

“That shows how well Porterville defended us,” Bandy said.

  The Cougars had just 29 kills in 98 attempts.

Maeleen Hopeau had 9 kills, Chelsea Wong 5, Haley Walrath 4, and Risha Alaiasa 3.

Mapusaga and Alaiasa each had 9 digs, Wong 8, Kaiwi and Kaylynn Palama 6 each and Walrath 4.

TC had no blocks.

Setter Palama had 26 assists in 89 sets.