Taft College defeats Merced in close match

Taft College made it two volleyball sweeps in a row, but the one the Cougars earned Wednesday night was the sweetest because it was the Central Valley Conference opener.

The Cougars came away with 25-23, 27-25 and 25-18 wins to improve their overall record to 4-3.

Head coach Kanoe Bandy said her team faced a strong defensive effort from Merced, but took advantage of hitting errors – many of them forced by the strong front row play from Brittany Peterson, Michelle Hardy, Janine Orosco, Tina Pulu and Kelcey Viliamu.

“They took the lines away from Merced,” she said, “It took away what they wanted to hit.  Our blocks took them out of their offense.  I’m really proud of what they did.”

Peterson led the way with four blocks, Hardy had two and the others had one apiece.

On the offensive side, Viliamu set the pace with nine kills, followed by Pulu with seven, Orosco with five and Morgan Blair with four.

Blair led the Cougar defense with 16 digs, Nicole Gummersall had 15, Hardy 11, Orosco eight and Pulu six.
From her setter position, Hardy recorded 29 assists.

“They (Merced) were a very strong defensive team,” Bandy said.  “Offensively, they made a lot of hitting errors, though.  It was quite an accomplishment beating them.”

The Cougars are in San Diego today and tomorrow for a tournament, opening pool play against Southwestern College.  Rio Hondo, Pima (AZ) and Reedley are the other pool play opponents. 

“I’m glad Reedley is in our pool,” Bandy said.  “That will give us a good indication of what to expect next week.
The Cougars host Reedley in a conference match Wednesday at 6.