East County Sports

Hawks eye return to national Top 25



By Nick Pellegrino
ECS staff writer

SANTEE —- For the first time in the listed online records of the NAIA, not a single college from California rates among the Top 25 in the latest women’s volleyball national rankings.

The records date back to the 1990s, with national powers Westmont and Vanguard almost always listed near the top, plus other schools often making the coaches’ list.

In fact, the only Golden State Athletic Conference school noted among the Top 25 isn’t even from California; sitting at No. 20 is Ottawa University of Arizona.

And guess who San Diego Christian College plays next?

The Hawks, already victors over Westmont and Vanguard this season, head to the desert this weekend to meet both Ottawa and Arizona Christian in matches that will decide the mid-season leadership of the GSAC.

The Hawks (10-3 overall, 5-2 GSAC) enter the trip riding a 5-game winning streak. They will first meet ACU on Friday (Oct., 6 p.m.), then the big battle with Ottawa on Saturday (Oct. 9) afternoon at 2 p.m.

The win streak started with an easy with over Menlo, which had been nationally ranked prior to the pandemic three seasons ago. Then the 5-set thriller over Westmont was followed by a tough turnaround and a 4-set triumph on the road at The Master’s the following late afternoon.

Add last week’s decisions over Antelope Valley and Vanguard in another difficult, home-road,, 2-day scheduling dynamic, and San Diego Christian is suddenly the hottest school in California.

To many voters, the victories over Westmont and Vanguard may have been considered a fluke. SDCC has been in the NAIA Top 25 just once in its history, enjoying a brief 5-week run in 2002 when the college has still known as Christian Heritage College. During the spree, the Hawks were ranked 24th, 25th, tie-24th, then two weeks at No. 22 before faltering.

Thus, should San Diego Christian sweep this weekend Arizona Christian and Ottawa, it should make the national poll for the first time in two decades.

In the last poll two weeks ago, when Westmont dropped from the rankings, they were replaced by Emery-Riddle (Ariz.) at No. 25. The only other West Coast school currently ranked is Eastern Oregon at No. 13.

SDCC also received good news about the weather forecast for the greater Phoenix valley, with temperatures only slated for the mid-80s as autumn is reaching the desert.

Meanwhile, the top-ranked ballclub in the NAIA is… Jamestown College, which is located in the volleyball capital of the world — Not! — North Dakota.

Latest results
SDCC df. Menlo, 3-1 (25-18,23-25,25-21,25-18): The Hawks broke a nearly 6-year streak of futility against the Oaks. Freshman right-side hitter Isabella Marshall paced the Hawks with 15 kills, including the victory clincher in the fourth set.
SDCC df. Westmont, 3-2 (W 25-15,25-23,19-25,21-25,16-14): This historic triumph saw Jessica Pinasco led the attack with 16 kills in defeating the 25th-ranked Warriors for the first time since 2005.

In the fifth-set tiebreaker, the lead changed hands four times before being deadlocked at 14-14. Immediately following a Hawk timeout, a Pinasco kill would grab the lead for the Hawks for good. After the Warriors committed an attack error to close the battle royale.

SDCC df. The Master’s, 3-1 (25-23,25-18,18-25,25-22): In Santa Clarita, the Hawks overcame the anticipated emotional letdown in the fourth set to down the Mustangs.
Breanna Brooks logged 6 total blocks (2 solo) and led the scoring (13 points). Imposing middle Celestina Iupeli led the offense with 10 kills.
SDCC df. Antelope Valley, 3-0 (25-5,25-21,25-15): The Hawks starters enjoyed watching the bench pound the visiting Pioneers from Lancaster. The defense saw Pinasco led with 16 digs in the cakewalk.
SDCC df. Vanguard, 3-1 (25-19,25-21,22-25,25-20): In Costa Mesa, the defense continued to frustrate opponents, with senior Kayli Barrera collecting 16 digs, while a trio of teammates registered three blocks each to tame the Lions.


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