By Wes McCurtis
CYPRESS, CA – No. 18 Cypress College women's volleyball picked up a key Orange Empire Conference win at home on Wednesday night over No. 25 Orange Coast College in four sets (24-26, 25-16, 25-17, 25-22). Cypress moved to second place in the OEC with five matches remaining after the win.
Cypress sophomore Brianna Johnson led the way with a career-high 23 kills on 32 attempts. Johnson also added 6 digs and 5 blocks. Freshman outside hitters Khamis Berneker and Kayla Owens finished with 14 and 10 kills, respectively. Freshman setter Penina Wilder finished with a season-high 59 assists on the night.
Strong defense at the net, along with three consecutive aces from Lei Saleapag, help give Cypress an early 12-7 lead in the opening set. However, the Pirates battled back, capitalizing on Cypress mistakes, to tie the game at 24 a-piece. An ace from OCC setter Devyn Holland put the Pirates ahead as they went on to win 24-26.
The Chargers bounced back with victories in sets two and three in front of their home crowd. Johnson and Berneker caught fire on offense, while Owens and Kyra Sims played tough defense at the net. Cypress cruised to a 25-16 win in the second set, followed by a similar 25-17 victory in the third set, to take a 2-1 lead.
The Pirates refused to go away, taking an early 7-12 lead in the fourth set. Cypress rallied with an 11-6 run to tie the game at 18 a-piece. Back-to-back kills from Berneker and Marina Pilkington gave Cypress their first lead of game four, 20-18. The Chargers never lost their lead as an Owens block sealed the 3-1 victory for Cypress.
Women's volleyball will return to action this Friday on the road against Santiago Canyon. First serve scheduled for 6:00 pm.
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