Menlo's bid at coming away with a win in their home opener went by the books this evening, as the Lady Oaks fell in four sets to La Sierra University (14-6). Menlo (3-6) started strong with a hard fought 25-18 first game victory, but proceeded to drop the next three sets by final scores of 25-22, 25-20, and 25-19. The loss extends the Oaks losing streak to six games, while the Golden Eagles run their win streak to four straight, all over Cal Pac opponents in UC Merced, William Jessup, Pacific Union, and Menlo.
The Lady Oaks burst onto the scene in their 2012 Haynes-Prim debut, rolling out to the tune of an early 12-4 advantage. La Sierra made it close at one point in the contest's first set, eventually cutting their deficit to 21-17, but Menlo raced to the finish line in taking four of the next five points to close out the set. Sophomore outside hitter Courtney Calicdan and junior outside hitter Nicole Yap combined for three kills in the Oaks final four point span, including a set ending kill by Yap on a set by sophomore Emma Oehler.
Menlo look primed to take a commanding 2-0 set advantage, after jumping out to a 14-8 lead in game two. Credit La Sierra though, who refused to quit in finding a way to rack up the next four points to chop the Oaks advantage to 14-12. Two kills by senior outside hitter Shelby Madigan helped set the tone, as the Golden Eagles wound up on top moments later. La Sierra took eight of the next 11, pushing up to a 20-17 lead. A Monderine kill made it 20-18, but ultimately the Lady Oaks could not find a way to pull out the set, going down 25-22.
Monderine led Menlo with 16 kills, while Yap and Calicdan were tied for second on the Oaks with ten each. Calicdan's .471 successful attack percentage was second among all players on the court, trailing only La Sierra's Lina Semaia who rolled off a remarkable .552 clip while also leading the match with 17 kills. 20 Angie Larsen assists topped Menlo's side, with the Golden Eagles' Colleen Stafford paving the way with a match high 35.
The Lady Oaks had their backs against the wall early in the crucial third set, falling in the first eight points. Menlo proved their resiliency by inching all the way back to make things 17-16 in favor of the Golden Eagles, however a final 8-4 La Sierra run sealed the deal on the third set.
With the Golden Eagles leading two sets to one, the fourth game saw the Oaks take an early 10-9 lead. Three Calicdan kills played a key role in the one point margin, but that was the last time Menlo would see a lead. La Sierra roped off the next ten, before eventually seizing the final set 25-19.
The loss puts the Oaks overall record at 3-6 as Menlo leaves their home opener with the unpleasant taste of having a 1-0 set lead elude them. "It's happened to us in the past. I think we just tightened up a bit in certain situations and dug ourselves in a hole," said third year Oaks Head Coach Daniel Rasay on tonight's outcome. "The good thing was we kind of fought back, but we have to have that fighting attitude throughout the entire match, not just when we are comfortably ahead or nothing to lose behind."
Menlo will be right back at it with a trip to Mills College set for Friday, September 14th. All the action gets underway at 7:00pm in Oakland.