Donatucci, Payne Magnificent but Warriors Comeback Bid Falls Short

Donatucci, Payne Magnificent but Warriors Comeback Bid Falls Short

TORRANCE, Calif. – Matthew Donatucci and Connor Payne carried the El Camino College offense and helped the Warriors erase a two-set deficit but the team could not complete the comeback against No. 1 Long Beach City, falling 3-2 (25-21, 25-21, 23-25, 15-25, 15-12).

Donatucci led all attackers with 22 kills on the night on 59 swings, attacking at a .203 clip for the Warriors (9-4, 2-1). Payne was incredibly efficient for ECC, hammering down 18 kills with just four errors and a .412 hitting percentage. He added six digs and three blocks with one service ace.

But the undefeated Vikings (16-0, 3-0) were able to escape the ECC South Gym with the victory thanks to 20 kills from Steven Rotter and 12 kills from Andrew Pearson. Miller Davis added 10 kills while Melbe Perez dished out 39 assists.

The Vikings dominated the net in the first two sets, recording 16 blocks (4 solo) in the first two frames to take a 2-0 lead.

But the Warriors solved those issues the remainder of the match as the Vikings tallied just three blocks in the final three sets. Payne's offense was key to solving that issue as he tallied 13 of his 18 kills in the final three frames including seven in the third set. That offense was critical in the frame as the Warriors overcame a pair of three-point deficits to catch the Vikings. At 21-21, the Warriors regained the lead in the set off an attack error by Rotter. Kills from Payne, Justin Navarro and Donatucci would eventually seal the win for the Warriors in the third and keep the match going.

In the fourth set, the Warriors offense ran on all cylinders as they attacked at a .474 clip and ran away with the frame by double digits.

The match featured 37 ties and 15 lead changes, but none of those came in the fifth set as the Vikings jumped out to a 4-1 lead and never relinquished it. They outhit ECC .588 to .214 in the fifth with Rotter smacking down seven kills in the decisive set to keep the Vikings undefeated on the year.

The Warriors will return to action next Friday with a road contest at Santa Monica. First serve is set for 6 p.m.