American River College’s women’s volleyball team defeated Gavilan College 3-2 (25-21, 25-13, 23-25, 22-25, 15-10) in the second round of the California Community College Athletic Association’s (CCCAA) Northern California regional playoff.
After winning the first two sets, the Beavers met strong resistance from Gavilan, facing a challenge sophomore middle hitter Nicole Hareland called “the most heart-wrenching” experience of the season.
“(We) thought it was going to be an easy game,” Hareland said of the third set. “It’s playoffs…if you lose, you’re done and I think we finally realized that in the fifth (set). We were like, ‘This could possibly be our last game together,’ so we went (hard).”
Gavilan won a competitive third set, in which neither team lead by more than three, then jumped out to a 3-to-0 lead in the fourth. Gavilan’s lead was extended to nine before ARC called for time.
The timeout was followed by several stoppages in play, including one overturned call, a discrepancy at the scores table and a dispute from Gavilan head coach Kevin Kramer. The Beavers found the slow pace disruptive.
“I don’t think it affected our momentum,” Hareland said. “I think it made us more annoyed that the refs were terrible.”
ARC head coach Ashlie Hain was less critical than Hareland, but did say the officiating “delayed the game a lot,” and should not have been an issue “at this point in the season.”
Amidst the disruptions, Gavilan added to the deficit, causing Frame to call another timeout, during most of which she did not address her players.
“It was more to give them some time to breath and try to see if they can bounce back,” Frame said. “There wasn’t anything constructive to say. It’s December. They know when they’re playing bad.”
Several players – including outside hitters Taylor Bunger, Kiana Chaney and Taylor Bright – entered the match for the first time.
The Beavers put together a 5-to-1 run, capped by a Bright block before eventually dropping the set.
Hareland thought the run helped the team turn things around in the final set. “We kind of knew we were going to lose the fourth (set), but we wanted to get our momentum up for the fifth game,” she said.
In a fifth and decisive set, the Beavers responded with high focus, allowing them to take control early, leading Gavilan to a more desperate style of play that frustrated ARC.
“They played that game dirty,” sophomore setter Jessica Condit said following the match.
The Beavers will play their final home match of the season today at 7 p.m.
With a win, the team would advance to the California Community College Championships, hosted at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, Calif. on Saturday and Sunday.