TORRANCE, Calif. – Down two sets to one and facing three match points in the fourth set, El Camino College showed some mettle as they fought back from the brink of defeat to force a deciding set and eventually pull out a 3-2 (25-21, 16-25, 16-25, 29-27, 15-7) victory over Santa Monica College Wednesday night at the ECC South Gym.
In their home opener, the Warriors (2-0) struggled with their offense as they hit at just a .140 clip against the Corsairs (0-1) after hitting at an excellent .372 clip in their season-opening win at Orange Coast.
Despite the collective struggles, sophomore Aiko Waters once again had a stellar match for the Warriors as she recorded her second straight double-double to start the year with 15 kills and 18 digs, both tops on the team on Wednesday. Waters hit at a .333 clip (15-3-36) and also added a block.
Jaylin Motley added 12 kills for the Warriors along with eight digs and Renee Brydon was incredibly efficient with her offense, tallying 10 kills with a blistering .571 (10-2-14) attacking percentage. Glorious Owens helped patrol the net on defense, leading all players with six blocks on the day while the Warriors recorded 14 blocks as a team.
For the Corsairs, Chelsea Bostwick led the way with 14 kills while Elena Eckhardt added 13. Meghan Middleton dished out 37 assists to go with seven digs.
The Warriors won a choppy first set to take the lead in the match despite both teams hitting under .100 in the set, thanks to Waters' five kills in the frame on seven attempts. But the Corsairs responded by taking the next two sets and led the fourth set wire-to-wire to put the Warriors on the brink and setting up a thrilling fourth set.
The teams were tied 10 times and traded the lead on seven occasions in the fourth but the Corsairs seemed to take control of the game late as they went on a 7-3 scoring run to turn a 16-16-tie into a four point lead for SMC.
The Warriors bounced back, scoring three straight points on a service error, kill from Motley and block by Phina Leilua and Owens.
Following a timeout by SMC, the Corsairs scored their first match point after a kill from Camryn Sommaripa, putting the Corsairs up 24-22. The Warriors fought off the first on a kill from Motley and then tied it on an attacking error by Eckhardt to force overtime. Tied 25-25, the Corsairs got another match point opportunity on an attacking error by the Warriors but the Corsairs returned the favor with an error of their own to tie things up at 26.
Waters hammered down a set from Sarah Dyer, one of the setter's 22 assists on the night, to give the Warriors their first set point of the game. But Bostwick scored a kill to tie things up. It would be Santa Monica's last stand in the set, however, as an error by Bostwick and Brydon's third kill of the frame sealed the set for ECC and forced a decisive fifth set.
In the final frame, the Warriors fell behind 3-1 early but then turned on the jets, going on a 10-1 scoring run to seize control of the set. Leilua's sixth and final kill of the night along with an attacking error from Eckhardt sealed the match for the Warriors as they escaped with the victory.
ECC will return to action Friday morning as they play two matches as part of the Long Beach Quad Tournament at Long Beach City College. The Warriors will face San Diego Mesa at noon followed immediately by a match with Saddleback scheduled for 2 p.m.