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Renegades take wind out of Pirates' sails with second-set comeback, sweep at home

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BC volleyball coach Carl Ferreira huddles with his team between the first and second sets of the Renegades' victory Tuesday night.

The Bakersfield College Renegades fought back from 20-16 and 24-22 deficits in the second set, then won the third by scoring eight of the last ten points to secure a 3-0 victory over the Ventura College Pirates.

Outside hitter Kami Marion led BC with 13 kills on the night, doing most of her damage in the middle-set rally. Middle blocker Aly Dees was quiet for much of the night before coming alive for five kills late to seal the win in the third set.

The 25-18, 27-25, 25-17 victory is the Renegades' 37th straight home win. BC (11-1, 5-0) hasn't lost a set at home since Aug. 28. The Renegades entered the week ranked No. 6 in the CCCAA poll, with the Pirates at No. 14 to set up a game that was postponed from Sept. 22. BC coach Carl Ferreira said he was impressed with his team's performance after winning some earlier games against teams that "weren't at this caliber."

"I was very happy that we were able to execute at a high level because a lot of it's just mental... (Ventura) did a really good job, but I thought our team handled it extremely, extremely well," Ferreira said.

Pirates coach Brad Lyans said his program has made a great deal of progress but has plenty more work to do.

"Being ranked 14, to me, doesn't mean anything," Lyans said. "It's how you play, it's backing up what you've been working on all year."

The Pirates played the Renegades tough all night. In the first set they took an 8-6 lead on an attack error, but BC promptly scored seven straight points, including three aces by Marion. Both teams struggled to return serves in the first set, as Ventura tallied five total aces of their own.

The Pirates held their deficit at around four points for most of the set, and after an ace from Amelie Zubia made it 20-16, with the Renegades standing awkwardly still as the ball bounced between them, Ferreira called timeout. And after BC regained its composure, the Renegades closed out the set in short order, concluding with a kill by Meagan Williams.

The second set brought far more drama. Once again the Renegades held a consistent lead of around four points. But with the score at 13-9, the Renegades made a variety of acrobatic defensive plays to dig Ventura attacks, only for Darynne Bickers to lightly tap the ball over the net for a Pirates point. With BC ostensibly drained by the effort, Ventura went on a 10-3 run to lead 20-16 after an attack error by Williams.

Once again, BC recovered during a pivotal timeout.

"We talk a lot about being neutral after we make a mistake," Ferreira said. "We try not to play to the scoreboard, we play to the situation — you know, what's the situation directly in front of us."

Recapturing their airtight defense from earlier in the set, the Renegades fended off the Pirates' attacks and scored four straight points, including a kill and a block from Williams. But this time the Pirates recovered, too. Bickers got another pivotal tip, and an error from Marion gave Ventura set point at 24-22.

Again BC was undaunted. The Renegades got a slick kill from setter Francesca Hernandez when she unexpectedly attacked instead of setting. Then Marion spiked it to tie the game. Later, at 25-25, BC had luck on its side when Marion's serve deflected over the net, disrupting the Pirates' rhythm and setting up Tia Jules for an easy kill after the return. The set ended on an ace from Marion, in the style of the first set, when Ventura could only manage a weak return.

"You train that all the time so your players don't panic," Ferreira said, "so I was really impressed with our composure in that situation."

The third set was slow and even. Neither team led by more than two points between 5-2 and 19-16. If the pace continued, whichever team went on a run first would win.

That turned out to be BC. With the Renegades leading 17-16, Jules came alive for three straight kills. Ventura called timeout, but got aced by Samantha Smith right after the stoppage. The Pirates managed one point to make it 21-17 when a block attempt drifted out of bounds, but BC scored the last four, ending on a defensive error to conclude the set. 

"I think our game plan was sound, and Bakersfield's the real deal," Lyans said. "They've exposed a few weaknesses that we've been trying to work on, and we'll continue to work on."

Ventura hosts Moorpark Friday. BC has a quicker turnaround, traveling to face Glendale Wednesday and Canyons Friday.

Reporter Henry Greenstein can be reached at 661-395-7374. Follow him on Twitter: @HenryGreenstein.

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