Second-seeded Bakersfield College got off to a great start in Tuesday's Southern California volleyball playoffs third-round match.
But erratic play in games 2-3 and much of the fourth game proved devastating as third-seeded Golden West College rallied for a 20-25, 25-17, 25-11, 30-28 win over the Renegades at the Gil Bishop Sports Center.
"What changed in this match was I thought they served better than we passed for a long stretch in games 2 and 3," said BC coach Carl Ferriera. "Usually we have been a phenomenal serving and passing team all year. But that's what can change the flow of a match."
BC finished 22-6 while Golden West (22-3) will advance to the state Final 4 this weekend in Fullerton as it bids to extend its state record volleyball championships to 18.
Good passing and a good mixture of hard hits and tips sparked the Renegades in the first game.
But the Rustlers shortened up their defense to cover the gaps close to the net, which took away the tips that BC had used so effectively in the first game.
And Golden West's net play started taking over as BC became predictable on its attacks, Ferriera said.
"When you stand two people right in front of a hitter, it becomes a heck of a lot easier," he said. "It's like a running back running straight into two defensive linemen. They're going to close the hole.
"In game 1, that's what we did well. We served (well), they were out of system, slow to the block. When that happens, you can hit seams and gaps. But when your passing breaks down and disappears, it makes it very difficult."
Golden West was coasting in the fourth game when it built an 18-8 lead. But BC rallied by scoring nine of the next 11 points and prompting Golden West coach Bill Lawler to call both of his timeouts.
The Rustlers served for two match points but BC held and tied it 24-24. Twice BC served with a one-point lead after that but couldn't finish it. Golden West finally ended it when middle blocker Kami Dickerson got the game-ending kill that deflected off a BC block attempt.
"We showed a lot of heart and that's what this team is made of," said BC sophomore outside hitter Caitlin Bernardin, who had 15 kills and 14 digs in her final match for the Renegades. "We built so many great relationships with each other that really held us together through the whole year. We're blessed and lucky to have each other."
Alyssa Mathews added 11 kills and 17 digs for BC and Editza Urias had 11 kills. Libero Monica Barksdale added 22 digs and setter Samantha Whittington had 39 assists and eight digs.
Bethanee Boggs had 21 kills, five blocks and 13 digs for Golden West. Saelina Dunn, who played at Cal State Bakersfield last season, added 20 kills for the Rustlers.
"It was kind of weird but it was exciting at the same time," Dunn said of returning to Bakersfield. "One of the girls (Whittington) was on my team at Cal State last year to it was fun."