Following an 18-day layoff, you would have thought the Bakersfield College volleyball team would have wanted to savor Tuesday night’s playoff opener at the Gil Bishop Sports Center.
But as it turned out, the Renegades had other plans.
No. 7 Bakersfield shook off a slow start — if you can call trailing 4-2 in the first set slow — quickly regained control and cruised to a 25-13, 25-13, 25-15 victory, disposing of No. 10 Chaffey with a dominant 75-minute performance in the opening round of the Southern California Regionals.
“Really, the big thing you’re concerned about when you have time off is rhythm,” BC coach Carl Ferreira said. “You know the team is going to be excited to play, but there’s a difference between a practice rhythm and a competition rhythm.”
To counter any potential cobwebs, Ferreira ran scripted practices designed to recreate a game situation.
“I really thought early on we didn’t have the rhythm we wanted, and I just kept telling them to be patient,” said Ferreira, whose team has now won 13 straight. “The rhythm is going to come and I think you’re just going to wear them down if you just maintain the game plan.”
True to their coach’s words, the Renegades did just that. In the opening set, BC (21-2) broke open a 7-7 tie, scoring 12 of the next 13 points with contributions from multiple players. Five different Bakersfield players had kills during the stretch, including two apiece from Penelope Zepeda and Alyson Dees, and a kill and block from Ryan Bayne.
“We had a really good game plan and we stuck to the game plan very well,” Ferreira said. “So the match is always going to be tight early. And I think if you just keep pressure on them … and that’s when I thought we started to pull away.”
Zepeda had five of her team-high 11 kills in the first set, but it was her serve game that disrupted Chaffey (22-4) throughout. She finished with four aces.
“We were really excited,” Zepeda said. “I think we just took it point by point and really stayed composed in the moment. And we’re just really, really excited to go on.”
The Renegades advance to play at No. 2 Grossmont (25-3) in Saturday’s SoCal Regional quarterfinal. The match is scheduled to start at 6 p.m.
“We’re really excited,” Zepeda said. “Starting tomorrow, we just have to take it practice to practice, really focusing on what we have Saturday and what we have ahead of us.”
Emily Clark and Lani Camarillo had six kills apiece, Dees added four kills and Bayne finished with three kills and two blocks for Bakersfield.