In a back and forth, tightly-contested second round playoff match, American River College’s women’s volleyball team defeated Fresno City College 25-19, 22-25, 25-19, 26-24 for a three games to one win, coming from behind in the final game after being down 24-23 at game point.
ARC used a balanced attack throughout the match, as eight different players finished with four spikes.
One of those players was Taylor Bunger, a defensive specialist (DS) who led ARC with 15 kills and 15 digs in 44 total attempts.
ARC’s best game was the first. Following a 10-10 tie early, ARC ripped off seven straight points on their way to a 25-19 victory.
In the second game, the teams went back and forth again, though ARC looked out of sync and struggled to find a rhythm.
“We made a lot of unforced errors, our energy died down,” said Bunger.
Midway through game two, ARC right side hitter Taylor Bright went down and grabbed her shin immediately.
Bright was quickly helped up by her teammates, and limped off the court with help from assistant coach Rheann Fall.
Bright did not return to the game, and “rolled her ankle,” according to head coach Ashlie Frame.
“(She) might be out Tuesday, but could come back for the title game,” said Frame.
Despite a timeout for ARC after they were trailing 15-13, they never found an edge and FCC eventually pulled away, winning the second game 25-22.
Game three started in similar fashion, with neither team gaining much ground on the other.
ARC put together a few points, eventually finding their groove offensively, and pulled away for a 25-19 win.
“I think we did good, but it was up and down. We started off really good and in the second game we got kind of bad and brought it back (in the third game). It was a tough game, but we did good overall,” said middle Courtney Macklin.
Early in game four, play was delayed three times by FCC as setter Ashlyn Riding and head coach Tracy Ainger-Schulte continuously argued with the first official about Riding’s position on the court.
The incident eventually led to FCC being issued a yellow card, and no further arguments ensued.
ARC got off to a better start in game four, leading early 10-6.
As the game progressed further, the teams’ split points, with FCC eventually taking the lead late.
After balancing the scoring for most of the match, ARC relied heavily on Macklin for the big points as the game came closer to ending.
“If something’s not hitting, we try and mix it up,” Bunger said. “The more we mix it up, the harder it is to defend.”
Macklin says being the go-to in crunch time is a non-issue.
“I am competitive and like having pressure on me,” Macklin said.
FCC eventually held a 24-23 lead, needing one more point to win and force a fifth and deciding game.
ARC managed to tie the score at 24, and then took a one point edge to set up match point on a block by setter Leila Whaley.
Macklin then served for the match, and ARC clinched the win after FCC middle blocker Katie Lowe smacked the ball into the net, ending the game in a 26-24 score.
“(Lowe) is awesome, they just had a bad error at the wrong time,” said Frame.
“They’re a good team, we had to fight every play.”
ARC middle Erianna Williams was never worried despite the tight finish.
“We had to take it one point at a time and kept pushing until the end,” she said.
ARC next travels to No. 2 seed Feather River College in the NorCal regional semi-final. A win will put them in the NorCal championship game.
“Very tough, Feather River is a tough team. It’s going to be difficult,” Frame said on the challenge waiting ahead.
Macklin says it won’t be easy, but believes the team is prepared for the game.
“I think so, I think we’re going to have to do a lot of scouting.”