The Saddleback women's volleyball team has been racking up big wins in recent weeks and changing the landscape of the Orange Empire Conference. The Gauchos took a giant step forward on Friday with a four set win at Cypress College.
Saddleback has been red hot, but was still heavy underdogs heading to Cypress where the Chargers entered the match ranked No. 7 in the state and had lost just once all season. Saddleback made a statement, winning 25-20, 21-25, 25-23 and 29-27 to climb within 1.5 games of the Chargers in the standings.
Saddleback led from start to finish in jumping out to a quick lead and capturing the first set, holding a seven point lead at 20-13 and holding on for the win. Cypress rallied for the early lead in the second set and Saddleback cut the deficit to one point (15-14) but couldn't overtake the Chargers. The third set was tied most of the way, except for a short explosion by Cypress in building a 20-16 advantage. Saddleback tied the score at 21-21 and the score remained tied until Cypress was caught out of rotation with the wrong player serving and the score tied 23-23, giving Saddleback a sideout point and the serve.
The fourth set continued with the same drama as Cypress broke away for an 18-13 lead before Saddleback would tie the score up at 19-19. The teams would then alternate serves for the next 16 points to remain tied all the way to 27-27 before Saddleback sophomore Mandy Sides put down one final kill for the win.
Sides (pictured) would tie for the team lead with 17 kills, adding 21 digs in the defensive end.
With the win, Saddleback is now 11-6 overall and 7-2 in Orange Empire Conference play pending a protest that was filed by Riverside after a 3-0 defeat of the Tigers last Friday. The Gauchos are 11-2 against teams from California after a 0-4 start against out-of-state competition in Nevada.
Saddleback will host Santa Ana on Wednesday, looking for its ninth straight win. Match time is scheduled for 6:00 PM.