PHOENIX, Ariz---A return to form for the second straight match helped the Arizona Western Lady Matadors (13-12 overall, 6-3 ACCAC) pull out a tricky four-set victory over the Phoenix College Bears (8-13 overall, 0-11 ACCAC) Friday night.
Entering their second straight road-trip to Phoenix in a week sandwiched between massive showdowns against the ACCAC leaders, the Matadors avoided a slow start with a strong service rotation and efficient attacking from two of their sophomore leaders.
The experienced offensive attack showcased its prowess in the first two sets as the Mats hit over .300 en route to a 2-0 match lead with wins of 25-22 and 25-18.
Things got dicey in the third set as the Bears jumped out to an early lead and rode the advantage until the Mats took a timeout at 17-22. AWC responded to pull within one at 21-22 until the errors piled up to a 23-25 final in favor of PC.
The fourth set saw the Lady Mats play from behind again, this time as both teams cleaned up their efficiency. Phoenix only committed two errors the entire fourth set, but Arizona Western matched the clean play by limiting themselves to two errors as well.
Down by four, the Matadors took a timeout with the score 20-16 in favor of Phoenix. The Bears committed one of those rare errors on a serve following the timeout. The Matadors capitalized as Lauolive Tonga smashed a kill inside the 10-foot line before Melissa Garciglia Banuelos backed it up with another powerful kill.
The two teams would exchange points down the stretch before the Matadors were able to eek out a 29-27 set to seal the match at 3-1.
Garciglia Banuelos and Tonga each had stellar matches punctuated by the clutch closing.
Garciglia Banuelos had five of the Matadors ten serving aces and topped off the stellar night with 21 kills and just five errors. Tonga added 11 kills, including the monster smash, while hitting a .500 clip for the match.
The win propels the Matadors back above .500 on the season before two big showdowns against the Yavapai RoughRiders in Yuma next weekend.
The Matadors will celebrate their five sophomores on Friday night as the match begins at 7:00pm at The House. The two teams will meet again Saturday afternoon at 3:00pm in the same venue.
Arizona Western College is one of the top community colleges in Arizona. The college boasts partnerships with all three state universities that include face-to-face classes in Yuma.