By Joe Dargan
Volleyball dominated at Rio Hondo College on Friday, winning three straight sets 25-23, 25-13 and 25-16, respectively.
With a shutout against Rio a month ago, East Los Angeles College coach Elliot Walker didn’t want to take this game lightly.
“I take every game as if it’s a new one. Since we played them last, they’ve made some changes and we’ve made some changes. We have to see how the adjustments are going to go,” Walker said before the game.
The first set was a challenge for the Huskies. Both teams came out with intensity as they matched each other point-for-point.
With the score tied 20-20 in the first set, freshman middle-hitter Kayla Dickerson scored on two consecutive plays to help ELAC pull away from Rio.
One point was a vicious spike between two Rio defenders.
The next was a gentle misdirection of the ball around the defense that was made possible by the defenders selling out on a block in expectation of another spike.
“That’s something that we train for every day. Our offensive patterns have certain attack hits that we work on,” Walker said.
“They have to know what offensive sequence we are in and what we expect to get out of it.” ELAC won the first set, 25-23.
Dickerson continued to exploit Rio’s weaknesses, starting the second set with 3 straight points.
“It’s what I do. I play because this is my life,” Dickerson said.
Midway through set two, after an amazing dig by freshman right-side setter Aifili Tuita’u, the Huskies scored two straight points that knocked the air out of Rio’s sail.
Rio’s body language began to shift negatively.
The score ballooned to 20-10 in favor of ELAC as Rio had trouble maintaining volleys and producing points.
Rio’s offense primarily came from the Huskies’ mistakes, like serves hitting the net and balls going out of bounds. ELAC won a much easier second set, 25-13. Rio began the third set devoid of passion.
It seemed like every long volley went ELAC’s way.
The score was quickly 15-8 in favor of the Huskies.
Rio began to fight back, outscoring ELAC 6-3, to make the score 18-14, Huskies. The comeback prompted Coach Walker to call a timeout.
“You guys aren’t communicating. They have tipped the last five balls. That means we’re giving them a chance to get back in it,” Walker said during the break.
ELAC responded by outscoring Rio 10-2 to close out the game, capping it off with a Tuita’u spike over a Rio defender. The Huskies won the final set, 25-16.
“Chaffey (College) is next. Our goal right now is, we want to isolate Chaffey and we hope to put a bid in for the state round of play-offs. That’s our goal.” Walker said.
Freshman outside hitter Makkenna Ryan, who was active after missing a month with a foot injury, suited up but did not play in the game.
The team played Chaffey College yesterday. Scores weren’t posted in time to add the results.