The Lady Oaks had their hands full in the 2012 William Jessup Invitational, dropping all three of their matches to some of the nation's best. Menlo had the tall task of going against three Golden State Athletic Conference schools in Arizona Christian, The Master's College, and Westmont, with The Master's ranked 16th in the country and Westmont #9 in the land. The three losses push the Oaks overall record to 3-5.
First it was a heartbreaking five-set defeat on Friday night at the hands of Arizona Christian. Menlo seemed primed to take the match after jumping up two sets to none with victories of 25-20 and 25-21, but the Lady Oaks were unable to close the door on a Firestorm comeback.
Late in the third set with Menlo clinging to a 24-22 lead, one point away from capturing the match, Arizona Christian's Bethany Beckham continued a match long stellar performance with a kill to cut the deficit to 24-23. The kill was then promptly followed by an Oaks ball handling error to deadlock the score at 24-24.
Menlo would respond behind a Stephanie Wertz kill, but ultimately Beckham and her match high 30 kills proved to be too much. The senior from Glendale, AZ came away with back to back kills to give the ACU a 26-25 lead, and after the two teams traded points to extend the score to 27-26 in favor of the Firestorm, an Oaks attack error sealed the deal on Arizona Christian's third set win. The exciting set featured 20 ties and five lead changes.
The fourth set was similar to the previous one as the two squads went back and forth for much of the affair. A Courtney Calicdan kill on an assist by Emma Oehler gave Menlo a 20-19 lead, but that would be the final point tallied in the fourth set for the Lady Oaks. Arizona Christian rolled off the next six points to grasp the fourth set 25-20, and in the process knot things up at two sets a piece.
The final game lived up to the hype of the first four, with things once again coming down to the wire. Two points away from clinching the match with a 13-11 lead, Menlo made three straight attack errors to reverse the script as the Lady Oaks now trailed 14-13. With their backs against the wall, Menlo responded with a Stephenie Monderine kill to deadlock the tilt at 14-14, but an Arizona Christian kill by Kylee Kammler and an Oaks ball handling error finally put an end to the madness. Menlo's 2-0 set advantage escaped them as they lost their opening match in the William Jessup Invitational.
The aforementioned Stephenie Monderine led the team with 14 kills, while Angie Larsen totaled a team high 23 assists, and Mika Mendoza racked up an Oaks leading 29 digs.
Shifting to Saturday and Menlo was forced to contend with two of the country's elite in #16 The Master's College and #9 Westmont College. The Lady Oaks first clashed with The Master's and after nearly taking the first set with the score knotted up at 23-23, Menlo dropped the next two points to fall 25-23 to the Mustangs.
The Oaks fought hard over the next two sets, but ultimately it wasn't their match as The Master's took the next two by identical marks of 25-20. Monderine once again led the charge in the kills department with a team high seven. Sophomore Emma Ohler produced an Oaks leading 14 assists, while Mendoza led the team with 10 digs. The Master's Sam Dougherty had a match high 13 kills, while Alyssa Gergins compiled an impressive 35 assists.
Menlo's final affair of the Invitational featured a re-match from a week ago, as the Lady Oaks wrestled with Westmont in the 23rd Annual Asics/Wyndham Hotel Labor Day Classic and fell in straight sets by final scores of 25-17, 25-15, and 25-18. A similar outcome in the Jessup Invitational, as once again Menlo found themselves on the losing end of all three sets, going down by scores of 25-12, 25-17, and 25-16.
Despite the loss, junior Nicole Yap played well with a team high nine kills, but more impressively the San Francisco native compiled a .438 successful attack percentage. On the opposite side of the equation, Westmont's Ciara Tuner led all players with 11 kills and a .600 successful attack percentage. As a team the Warriors put together a remarkable .379 successful attack percentage, a crucial factor in the victory.
After starting 3-0, Menlo has dropped the next five matches, three of them coming against the nation's top 20. The Lady Oaks will try to right the ship as they get set for their home opener on Thursday, September 13th against La Sierra University. Action is set to get underway at 7:00pm.