Up two sets to none, Menlo leads 21-19 in game three...
Stephenie Monderine set Nicole Yap. Yap rose atop the net and let one loose. The ball ricocheted off of Embry-Riddle's defensive efforts, and just like that, Menlo College was on their way to the NAIA National Tournament, champions of the California Pacific Conference Postseason Tournament. The #1 seeded Oaks toppled the #2 Eagles in straight sets, taking home the title by final game scores of 25-13, 25-22, and 25-23.
"I'm speechless." The simple sentiment of Monderine, who finished with a match high 24 assists. "This is just on a whole other level. I'm so excited to bring it [the title] back. It's an amazing feeling."
The Oaks took nothing to chance in their three-set sweep, including erasing a late deficit in the final game. Menlo trailed 19-18, but thanks to a Courtney Calicdan kill, a Courtney Calicdan ace, an attack error by Riddle, and a Stephanie Wertz kill, the Lady Oaks took a 22-19 advantage. The Eagles trucked back with two of their own to trim the Menlo lead to one, before making an attack error to pad the Oaks lead to 23-21. Menlo then made an error of their own, before two Nicole Yap kills, with a Mahlet Lee kill sandwiched in the middle, gave the Oaks the set and the match.
"I was overwhelmed with emotion," Menlo Head Coach Daniel Rasay said on capturing his first conference crown since joining the Oaks in 2010. "Every season you go through your ups and downs with injuries, emotions, and all of those kinds of things. To endure it though and come through to win a championship makes all those emotions come back to you, and to see the look on the girls' faces is awesome."
Yap's final two kills to account for the Oaks 24th and 25th points of the third set, capped off a stellar performance that saw the junior from San Francisco lead her team with 12 kills. The Cal Pac's Newcomer of the Year came up big in the second set as well, helping Menlo go on a late charge to swing the momentum over to the Oaks.
Menlo trailed 18-16 before rolling off five straight points, two on Yap kills, to take a 21-19 advantage. The Lady Oaks never looked back in seizing the second game 25-22.
Menlo came out rolling in the first set, controlling things from start to finish in a 25-13 blowout win.
Yap wasn't the only outside hitter to come up with a strong showing in the title clash, as senior Stephanie Wertz and sophomore Courtney Calicdan each had eight kills, with Wertz leading the Oaks with a .438 hitting percentage. Senior Mika Mendoza carried Menlo on the defensive side of things in compiling a match high 29 digs.
Riddle's Mahlet Lee led all players on the court with 13 kills, as the senior from Downey, CA wraps up her collegiate career leading the conference with kills this year.
Menlo advances to their first NAIA National Championship since 2009. Dating back to the regular season the Oaks have now won 14 matches in a row, with their last defeat coming way back on September 13th.