IMPERIAL, CA — The East Los Angeles College volleyball team began its season with two wins in the Imperial Valley Tournament. The Huskies, 2-1 overall, won 3-2 vs. host Imperial Valley, won a 3-0 shutout vs. Cuyamaca College (0-6) and lost 3-0 to Arizona Western College (6-3).
ELAC 0-4 vs. Arizona Western College
It was a close match throughout in ELAC’s season opening game. The Huskies came up on the short end of a 25-17, 25-20, 25-18 score against one of the top teams in Arizona.
“Arizona Western is a (junior college) Division I team with highly advanced recruits, most of them from Puerto Rico, where players at this level are highly advanced in the game itself,” said ELAC head coach Elliott Walker.” “Arizona Western offers 100% scholarships.”
“We did match up to them at a ratio of 3:2, for every three balls they put down, we put down two. They are in the top five percent every single season and we’re a growing program.
The Huskies matched up with Arizona Western very well. Arizona Western had 35 kills to ELAC’s 23. ELAC had 11 errors to 18 for Arizona Western.
ELAC freshman middle blocker Kayla Dickerson (Bell Gardens High School) had a game-high 10 kills. Freshman defensive specialist Victoria Trejo (Downey HS) led the Huskies in two categories with four service aces and 10 digs.
“We made some adjustments to see how our end game plan would work and that’s where Arizona Western capitalized,” said Walker. “That gave us a good scope as to what we need to do to prepare for upcoming contests.”
ELAC wins in five sets
The Huskies defeated the host team Imperial Valley 19-25, 25-14, 20-25, 25-20, 16-14. The two teams a scrimmage in August. “Imperial Valley improved a little bit since the scrimmage,” said Walker. “We ran with some different offenses and rotations this time around. This helped in pulling ELAC out of some holes.”
Set 1: The Huskies led predominantly throughout the set, but Imperial Valley rallied for set win, 25-19.
Set 2: ELAC came back strong with mostly the starters in the mix. The Huskies mixed in different offenses, “that they really enjoy,” said Walker. That kept the momentum throughout the set for a 25-15 Huskies win.
Set 3: “In the third set, the Huskies did a similar concept of mixed offenses and ran some that they had not quite yet worked on,” said Walker. The latter worked to the advantage of Imperial Valley who took the set, 25-20.
Set 4: Back to the drawing board. ELAC played the fourth set with a new series of offense, which was good enough to block an Imperial Valley rally attempt and a 25-20 set win.
Set 5: The fifth set was a back-and-forth battle. The home crowd got into the match, but the Huskies worked as a unit that wouldn’t let down. They were vocal with their communication and pulled out the dramatic win.
Three Huskies smashed a total of 42 of ELAC’s 65 kills. Freshman outside hitter Makkena Ryan (Oakdale HS) hit 17 kills, freshman middle hitter Daija Walton (Perris HS) hit 15 and sophomore setter Taryn Higareda (Rosemead HS) had 10.
Walton had an impressive eight blocked shots. Trejo had 20 digs and Ryan had 10. Freshman setter Aifili Tuita'u (Cajon HS) led the Huskies in service aces with three.
ELAC sweeps Cuyamaca, 25-7, 25-13, 25-10
In their final match of the tournament, ELAC shut out Cuyamaca College 25-7, 25-13, 25-10.
“Cuyamaca is a young team, with pretty talented athletes,” said Walker. “Our serving was pretty much the game shaker. We ran some different setting options that helped us achieve the win.”
The Huskies had a .525 hitting percentage, its highest since Sept. 14, 2016.
ELAC freshman middle hitter Daija Walton (Perris HS) and freshman outside hitter Bela Gamboa (Downey HS) led the Huskies attack with 13 kills apiece. Walton blocked five times. Tuita'u led the serving attack with four service aces.
story submitted by Tadzio Garcia