East County Sports

Upset of Vanguard not lost on Hawks

2021 SAN DIEGO CHRISTIAN HAWKS VOLLEYBALL 

By Nick Pellegrino
ECS staff writer

COSTA MESA – In 2003, among the nine freshen currently on the San Diego Christian College women’s volleyball roster, all were born, but none had yet celebrated their first birthday.

On September 13, 2003, on a sunny Saturday afternoon along the eastern foothills of El Cajon, the Hawks defeated Vanguard University in a 4-set match.

Since then, the nationally-ranked Lions turned into one of the nation’s top NAIA volleyball programs. The Hawks, unfortunately, did not.

However, on Tuesday (Mar. 2), all that ugly history changed.

Behind 17 kills by Brianna Brooks, 16 put-aways from Aixa Crespo, and a rambunctious defense, San Diego Christian ended a, literally, life-long, 35-match losing streak to finally upend Vanguard. The thrilling, 5-set, Golden State Athletic Conference marathon took 2:28 to complete at The Pit gymnasium.

The Hawks accomplished their mission in come-from-behind fashion by scores of 25-20, 19-25, 18-25, 25-20, 15-11.

“Second place!,” exclaimed first-year SDCC head coach Gene Krieger about the triumph. “It’s the school’s best placement ever.”

Vanguard was well-warned in advance about the new-look Hawks after they took No. 4 ranked Westmont into a fifth set two weeks ago. However, Krieger’s crew took Game 1 before falling behind, 2-1.

Then, according to a Vanguard post-game press release, two words explained the match’s conclusion: “What happened?”

Let’s just say there’s a new kid on the block.

“This is a great comeback win for our program,” added Kreiger. “Second place is a great accomplishment for this young group.”

“This is the most enthusiastic and encouraging group of young players that I have ever coached.”

In the fourth set, SDCC spikers registered 12 kills against just a single attack error to level the match.

In the tie-breaker, the Hawks snapped an 8-8 deadlock by scoring three straight points,  A Brooks kill (assist to setter Arianna Velasquez) gave the Hawks the lead for keeps.

Pinasco followed by gaining two additional points. The first came on a block attempt which forced a Lions hitting error. Then upon rotating to the back row, she served an ace for an 11-8 advantage.

“The weight of this win is so much heavier than my new teammates could ever understand,” said Pinasco, a junior outside hitter who has endured many of the program’s downtimes. “Previously enduring an entire losing season, to beat a team we haven’t defeated for the last 35 matches is something I will remember forever.”

“I’m thankful for Coach Gene and the girls he brought to us to turn things around. It feels so good to wear San Diego Christian on my back again.”

Later, Brooks and Crespo added consecutive kills for a 13-9 lead. A kill by Alexis DeBina-Bautista made it 14-10, but after a Lions’ point, the pressure of the long streak ended when Vanguard served the ball into the net for the match.

“After coming back from a losing season, this win against Vanguard really made me realize how much hard work pays off,” noted Velasquez. “This is definitely a defining moment for our new team and program.”

“This is only the beginning and I’m excited to see what our future holds.”

For San Diego Christian (7-5 overall,3-2 GSAC West Division), Kayli Barerra again paced the backcourt with 21 digs, while DeBina-Bautista added 14 digs among the ballclub’s 88.

Upfront, Brooks led with six blocks, including a pair of solo stuffs.

Vanguard fell to 5-4 (2-3 GSAC West).

The home-and-home series concludes Thursday at 6 p.m. at the Salvation Army gym in El Cajon.

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