(Original piece from Whittier College Athletics, Sep. 2017)
By Dan Gudino
EAGLE ROCK, Calif. – The Whittier College Volleyball team bounced-back and reclaimed its winning ways with a hard fought conference victory, over Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) rival, Occidental College, 25-22, 25-22, 25-27, 25-16.
Despite going up two-sets to none, the Poets struggled in the third, as they faced their biggest deficit of the entire meeting, 17-10.
Poet head coach Chris Duarte-McDermott, said teams can really turn things around in a match when you agitate a team” as the Poets did in the second — Occidental came within a point of tying the second game at 24, however, Whittier hung on.
“When you win a set the way we did in the second, by escaping and allowing a team to nearly take it back, it could potentially rile-up a team,” Duarte-McDermott said.
But efficient setting from Camryn Purdom (Moreno Valley, Calif.), who had a game-high 30 assists, setup 17 more players than any Poet, and proved to be a major difference in the entire match.
“(Setting) it’s always been the best part of my game, without a doubt. I want to be that player that gets you a set. It’s something I’ve always worked on,” Purdom said.
Purdom’s passing skills and two excellent serves put the Poets within a sweep of the match when they came back to tie the third at 20, and then immediately took the lead, 21-20.
Yet, the Poets slipped with three consecutive ties and lead changes, setting up Occidental for the third-set victory.
The Poets were instantly motivated by the third set loss and reawaked as they cruised to a nine-point win in the final fourth game, 25-16.
The Poet offense was aided by Purdom feeding Makenzie Thieme (Corona, Calif.) and Ashley Whittall (Norwalk, Calif.) in the final game, who both finished with a team-high 14 kills.
“We definitely played down to a team tonight when we allowed the third to slip, but we know it’s us and not what the other team did. We can’t allow ourselves to get too cocky next time. We just have to finish,” Whittall said.
Whittier, now 8-3 and 2-1 in SCIAC is back home this Saturday, September 23 as it faces off against Cal Lutheran University, at 6:00pm. Cal Lutheran is currently on a five-game losing streak.
Whittier finds itself just shy of the top 25 at No. 30.
“It means a lot to get a victory tonight,” explained Duarte-McDermott. It means a lot to our program that we’re in the top 30 and just outside of the top 25. But, in the end, rankings are just opinions and what matters is every single set.”
Article by: Daniel Gudino (Sports Information Office)
K: 2 Players (#12, #24 – 14)
B: Alexis Mills – 5
D: Clarissa Standafer – 15
SA: Camryn Purdom – 3
K: Claire Strohm – 15
B: Cassandra Guidice – 3
D: Claire Strohm – 10
SA: Cassandra Guidice – 3