The Saddleback women's volleyball team won its second straight match on Friday with a 3-2 victory at Santa Ana College. The win moves the Gauchos into a tie for third place in the Orange Empire Conference.
Saddleback is heating up at the right time after a slow start to the season. The Gauchos have now won four of their last five matches after the win on Friday.
Saddleback started slowly, dropping the first set 19-25. The Gauchos had a great start to the set in jumping out to a 7-1 lead before falling apart and allowing the Dons to hang around. Santa Ana scored eight of the next nine points in taking a 9-8 lead. With the game tied at 11-11, Santa Ana then received three straight aces from Alexis Santos in grabbing back the lead for good.
Saddleback bounced back in the second set for a 25-23 win. The Gauchos again started quickly, jumping out to a 7-3 lead as the Dons committed a number of errors early in the set. Santa Ana once again battled back, taking a 21-19 lead late in the set before the Gauchos made their move. The Gauchos eventually took a 24-23 lead when Mackenzie Alexander blasted a pass from Kiana Camargo for the lead. Natalie Abboud then ended the set with her second ace of the set.
Set three was another tight battle with Santa Ana getting the best of the Gauchos, 24-26. Saddleback again led early before the Dons rallied for the win. Saddleback led 24-22 and looked in control to take a 2-1 lead in the match. Santa Ana had other ideas, once again led by Santos. The freshman again had back-to-back aces as the Dons rallied for the final four points of the set for a 2-1 lead.
Saddleback responded with a dominating win in set four, 25-15. The set had a completely different feel as Santa Ana jumped out to a 5-1 lead. The Gauchos battled back to tie the game at 13-13 before hitting the gas pedal. Saddleback scored the next 10 points in turning a close set into a route. Abboud had three aces during the stretch while Santa Ana had five attacking errors. Julia Brown put a stamp on things with a resounding kill off a pass from Camargo.
The fifth set again proved to be a tight battle. Saddleback trailed early in the set before rallying for a 14-11 lead. After a couple of points drew the Dons to within 14-13, Brown again put a stamp on things with a kill and a hard-fought, 15-13, win.
Brown finished with a team-high 20 kills while Shay Savoie led the squad with 21 digs in the defensive end. Camargo finished with 37 assists while Alexander led the team with one solo block and four block assists. Abboud finished with five aces.
Saddleback is now 6-8 overall and 5-3 in Orange Empire Conference play following the win. The Gauchos are currently in a three-way tie for third place with Riverside and Cypress with eight matches remaining. The Gauchos host the top-ranked team in the state next Wednesday when rival Irvine Valley comes to town for a 6:00 PM match. The Lasers got the best of the Gauchos 3-0 in the opening round of OEC play on September 14 and have won 39 straight matches after a 3-2 win over Cypress on Friday.