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Bakersfield sweeps scrappy Vaqueros in lights-out home opener

New coach Kat Niksto does a little teaching during a timeout on Friday night.
New coach Kat Niksto does a little teaching during a timeout on Friday night.

SBCC gave perennial power Bakersfield everything it could handle in the second and third sets before dropping a 25-13, 29-27, 25-21 decision in its women's volleyball home opener on Friday night in the Sports Pavilion.

The power went out late in the third set with the Renegades leading 18-15. The lights were out for 15 minutes and just when it looked like the match would be suspended, the power came back on.

The Vaqueros (0-3) tied things up quickly, 18-18, on a hitting error and two aces from Madi Mullins. The Renegades regained control on a kill by Lanie Camarillo, a block by Alyson Dees and a kill through the block by Penelope Zepeda.

A dump by setter Sophia Palm made it 22-18 and minutes later, the Renegades secured the victory when Destiny Nobriga put away a spike.

"We had a little bit of nerves in the first set as we were serving balls against the wall back there," said first-year coach Kat Niksto. "We settled down and I was super proud of their play in the second set, battling into overtime in our first home game.

"I was disappointed that they couldn't pull it out but I was really proud of how they battled from start to end."

Lauren Holsted, a freshman outside hitter from Bishop Diego High, paced the Vaqueros with eight kills and six digs. Left-hander Gabi Brewer added seven kills and Makenzie Phelps had six.

Lauren Wold handed out 27 assists while Bella Brandt had three aces and 13 digs. The Vaqueros recorded six ace serves but also had 12 errors.

Penelope Zepeda led the Renegades (4-0) with 11 kills, nine digs and four aces.

The Vaqueros built a 7-1 lead in the second set on an ace by Holsted and went up 9-3 on a kill by Brewer. But the Renegades put together a 10-3 run and took their first lead at 14-13.

A roll shot by Phelps gave SBCC set point at 24-23 but the visitors tied it on a Vaquero hitting error. Santa Barbara fought off three set points before 6-foot-2 Emily Clark blocked a ball in the middle to secure the 29-27 decision.

Bakersfield, which has won the last three WSC South titles, had slim leads for the first half of the third set, then pulled away with an 8-2 run that produced an 18-13 advantage.

"They all played really well as a unit," said Niksto. "It was really nice to have Madi Mullins back in the middle after she missed the Bakersfield Quad with an injury. Clearly she has some dynamic kills that light up the team and the crowd. We're still missing one of our setters (Maranda Newson).

"I thought Lauren Wold did a good job setting the 5-1. She's small for playing in the front row and we knew other teams would take advantage of it. I thought we did a good job of playing defense around it.

"We only have one returning player from last year so we're kind of finding our way as the season starts. Everyone is working very hard and they all like each other."

The Vaqueros will host the SBCC Quad on Saturday, taking on Pasadena at 11 a.m. and Long Beach at 3 p.m.