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 2016 Roster-Schedule-Results-Coaches |  2016 Sand Volleyball

The 2015 Comets
(Photo by Hugh Cox)

2016 Season ...

PC ends home season with 3-1 victory

SAN MARCOS (11-10-2016) -- The Palomar women's volleyball squad closed out its 2016 home season with a 25-15, 25-27, 25-19, 25-18 Pacific Coast Athletic Conference Cross-Division victory over Imperial Valley on Thursday night in The Dome.

Madyson Lozano's kill gave Palomar its deciding 25th point in the third set and put the Comets up two sets to one.

Then, in the fourth set, Lozano's kill off the Arabs' best player, Meagan Lerno gave the Comets the final point of the night after Gabby Hutzler's serve in the point, set, match situation.

Kayla Boatright contributed 30 assists and Ashley Aubele had 18 assists for Palomar.

Kianna Niu had 16 kills, Sam Radebaugh 14 and Lozano 12. Niu also led in digs with 28, followed by Karina Tellez (24), Hutzler (21) and Boatright (10).

Tellez had 4 aces, Aubele 2. And Radebaugh (3) and Sammy Camps (2) led in blocks.

After starting the season with a 3-10 record, the Comets have won six of their last nine matches. They'll play their final 2016 match on Wednesday on the road against San Diego City College in another cross-division match.

Comets sweep Roadrunners, are 5-2 in North

SAN MARCOS (11-05-2016) -- Palomar remained on its recent roll in Pacific Coast Athletic Conference North Division women's volleyball on Friday evening, sweeping College of the Desert 25-14, 25-21, 25-23 in The Dome.

Kianna Niu again led the Comets with 17 kills and 11 digs. Kayla Boatright notched 21 assists, while Palomar's other setter Ashley Aubele added 10 assists.

Sam Radebaugh put down 6 kills and Sammy Campos had 5 kills. Karina Tellez contributed 8 digs, Boatright 7 and Gabby Hutzler 6. Madyson Lozano had 4 aces, Alubele 3 aces. And Campos (4) and Radebaugh (3) combined for 7 blocks.

Palomar advances to 5-2 in the PCAC North going into its final match of the regular season on Tuesday at 6 p.m. against North Division champion MiraCosta.

Niu leads Comets past Eagles in four

BANNING (11-03-2016) -- Kianna Niu (left) flattened Mt. San Jacinto with a dominant performance on Wednesday night, paving the way for Palomar's 22-25, 25-18, 25-13, 25-13 Pacific Coast Athletic Conference North Division women's volleyball victory at the Mt. San Jac gym.

The Comets advanced to 4-2 in the North Division and solidified their hold on second place.

Niu put down 22 kills and also contributed 14 digs. Madyson Lozano had 7 kills, and Denver Spencer, Lisa Eldridge and Sam Radebaugh each had 6.

Ashley Aubele (right) passed for 23 assists while splitting time at setter with Kayla Boatright, who had 15 assists. Aubele also tacked on 12 digs. Karina Tellezand Gabby Hutzler added 11 each. Lozano and Tellez delivered 3 aces apiece. Radebaugh had 3 blocks at the net.

Palomar's Kianna Niu, the PCAC Women's Athlete of the Week, puts down a kill over San Bernardino Valley's Alexis Thomas on Wednesday evening in The Dome. Niu finished with 17 kills. The Comets downed the Wolverines in a North Division match in three sets. -- Photo by Hugh Cox

Conference AOTW Niu, Comets sweep

SAN MARCOS (10-26-2016)  -- Kianna Niu, the reigning Pacific Coast Athletic Conference Women's Athlete of the Week, and her Palomar teammates swept visiting San Bernardino Valley 25-17, 25-23, 25-21 in a North Division match on Wednesday evening.

Niu (17 kills, 10 digs) and Kayla Boatright (36 assists) led Palomar. Also for the Comets, Denver Spencer had 9 kills, Madyson Lozano 7 kills. Karina Tellez contributed 9 digs. Ashley Aubele (3) and Tellez (2) led in assists.

Niu, from Valley View High School in Hemet and a community college transfer from College of Southern Idaho, totaled 25 kills last week, giving her 47 for three matches in an eight-day period and gaining her the AOTW honor.

Niu started last week with 17 saves and 11 digs in a 26-24, 25-11, 28-26 sweep of College of the Desert on the road and came back on Friday as North Division leader MiraCosta turned back the Comets in Palomar's annual Susan G. Komen cancer awareness and fund-raising match 25-22, 25-15, 15-25, 25-18.

The previous Friday, Niu put down 22 kills in a four-set loss to Mt. San Jacinto.

TOP PHOTO: Denver Spencer (No. 14) delivers a kill for Palomar in Friday evening's Susan G. Komen match awith MiraCosta at The Dome. DIRECTLY ABOVE: Madyson Lozano (No. 3) pulls the Comets to within 24-22 of the Spartans late in the first set, but MiraCosta won th the next serve. -- Photos by Hugh Cox

Spartans turn back PC in Komen match

SAN MARCOS (10-21-2016)  -- MiraCosta knocked off Palomar 3-1 on Friday evening at The Dome in the Comets' annual Susan G. Koman match to raise money for breast cancer education, treatment, research and patient and family support.

The set scores were 25-22, 25-15, 15-25, 25-18.

Kianna Niu led the Comets with eight kills and 15 digs. Kayla Boatright contributed 19 assists.

The Comets fell to 2-2 in the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference North Division. The Spartans are 4-0.

Comets sweep COD, are 2-1 in North

PALM DESERT (10-19-2016) -- Palomar made it two straight victories to open its Pacific Coast Athletic Conference North Division women's volleyball schedule, sweeping College of the Desert on Wednesday evening in the COD gym.

The set scores were 26-24, 25-21, 28-26 as the Comets advanced to 2-1 in the PCAC North.

Keanna Niu had 17 kills and 11 digs to lead Palomar. Madyson Lozano had eight digs. Ashley Aubele had 11 assists.

PC will host annual Komen match Friday

SAN MARCOS (10-19-2016) -- Palomar will play its annual Susan G. Komen Foundation fund-raiser for the fight against breast cancer on Friday when the Comets host MiraCosta on Friday at 5 p.m. in The Dome.

All gate and concession proceeds for the 5 p.m. Pacific Coast Athletic Conference North Division match against rival MiraCosta will be donated to the Susan G. Koman Foundation for Cancer Research.

The mission of the Susan G. Komen Foundation is to save lives and end breast cancher forever. The Foundation's methods include education, support for research, grants to provide financial and emotional assistance to those affected and to advocate for better public breast cancer policy.

In the broader sense, the foundation works to ensure quality care for all and invest in the science to find a lcure. Last year, Susan G. Komen's communithy grants provided financial and social support for more than 50,000 families impacted by breast cancer.

Palomar is 2-1 in the PCAC North, while MiraCosta comes in 3-0.

PC sweeps SBVC in conference opener

EL CAJON (9-24-2016) / SAN BERNARDINO (10-07-2016) -- Palomar opened its Pacific Coast Athletic Conference North Division women's volleyball season with a road sweep over San Bernardino Valley on Friday evening.

The set scores were 25-22, 25-16, 25-19.

Kianna Niu led Palomar with 13 kills and 11 digs. Madyson Lozano and Sammy Campos had  7 kills each. Karina Tellez added 10 digs.

On Sept. 24, the Comets split two matches in the Grossmont Quad, beating Southwestern 28-26, 25-14, 25-16, then losing to state No. 1-ranked Grossmont 25-20, 25-22, 25-19).

Niu contributed 14 kills and 18 digs in the Southwestern match, and had 12 kills vs. Grossmont.     

Lisa Eldridge (No. 6) records a block for Palomar against Irvine Valley on Tuesday night at The Sammy Campos and Kianna Niu each put down nine kills for the Comets (2-7 overall). Karina Tellez led in digs with 15, while Niu and Gabby Hutzler added nine digs apiece.

Comets drop home opener to Lasers

SAN MARCOS (9-13-2016) -- Irvine Valley the 2014 California state community college women's volleyball champion, spoiled Palomar's home opener on Tuesday night, sweeping the Comets 25-17, 25-17, 25-12 at The Dome.

Palomar got off to a strong start in the first set and led by five points. But the Lasers came back to win the set and continued on to the sweep.

Sammy Campos and Kianna Niu each put down nine kills for the Comets (2-7 overall). Karina Tellez led in digs with 15, while Niu and Gabby Hutzler added nine digs apiece. Madyson Lozano contributed two service aces. Kayla Boatright had 15 assists and Ashley Aubele four.

Comets bounce back, sweep Cerro Coso

SAN DIEGO (9-10-2016) -- Coach Karl Seiler's Palomar women's volleyball team came to life in the Comets' final match in the 31st San Diego Mesa Invitational on Saturday to sweep Cerro Coso.

The win gives them some momentum heading into their home opener, a rare Tuesday match against non-conference opponent Irvine Valley at 5 p.m.

After earlier losses in the Mesa tournament to powerhouse Los Angeles Pierce and Bakersfield, the Comets powered past the Coyotes 25-16, 25-10, 25-12.

Ashley Aubele recorded 8 service aces and also contributed 16 assists from her setter's position to lead Palomar. Kayla Boatwright split time with Aubele at serve and added 14 assists.

Kianna Niu (9 kills, 7 digs), Madyson Lozano (9 kills) and Lisa Eldridge (7 kills, 8 digs) also had strong matches.

Earlier in the day the Comets lot to Bakersfield 3-0 (25-16, 25-14, 25-18). Lozano had 7 kills and 2 aces, while Niu had 5 kills and 16 digs, and Denver Spencer had 5 kills. Aubele recorded 13 assists. Karina Tellez had 11 digs.

Pierce, which has won two recent state titles, turned back the Comets 25-11, 25-23, 25-12 to begin the tournament on Friday.

PC rebounds to sweep Chaffey

WOODLAND HILLS (8-27-2016) -- Palomar, with a young team and some key injuries, stumbled out of the gate in its first match at the Second Los Angeles Pierce Kickoff Classic over the weekend. But the Comets battled back with three strong performances including a 3-0 sweep of Chaffey.

Sophomore outside hitter Kianna Niu, a transfer from College of Southern Idaho who played at Valley View High School in Hemet, had a big weekend in her Palomar debut with 72 kills and 61 digs in four matches (16 sets).

On Friday, the Comets lost their tournament and season opener to Santa Barbara City College in three sets, then dropped a marathon to Pacific Coast Athletic Conference North favorite MiraCosta in five sets. On Saturday, coach Karl Seiler's squad lost to Rio Hondo in five sets, then swept Chaffey in three sets.

Santa Barbara def. Palomar 3-0 -- Niu began her first season at Palomar by recording 13 kills and 15 digs in a 25-17, 25-23, 25-7 victory for the Vaqueros. Also for the Comets: Madyson Lozano had four kills, Karina Tellez recoded 1 digs and setter Ashley Aubele had 12 assists and seven digs.

MiraCosta def. Palomar 3-2. The Spartans finally prevailed, holding off the Comets 25-13, 13-25, 25-22, 24-26, 15-13 for their first win over Palomar since the late 1980s. The Comets had won all four meetings between the teams since MiraCosta brought back volleyball two years ago after dropping the program for 23 years. Niu contributed 19 kills and 16 digs. Also for the Comets, Gabby Hutzler had 12 kills, Tellez had 11 kills, Lozano accumulated eight kills and three aces and Aubele totaled 36 assists.

Rio Hondo def. Palomar 3-2 -- Niu (22 kills, 19 digs) led the way as the Comets extended the Roadrunners to five sets before finally losing. Lozano had six kills and Sammy Campos five kills. Hutzler and Tellez each had nine digs, and Aubele dished off 38 assists.

Palomar def. Chaffey 3-0 -- Niu finished off the weekend with 18 kills and 11 digs while Lozano also had a big match with 13 kills and three aces. Aubele had 40 assists. Tellez had 12 digs, Hutzler nine.

Off-Season ...

Libero Wendy Garcia digs the ball during Palomar's Southern California Regional playoff match with Bakersfield College last Nov. 24 at The Dome. Garcia has become the fifth sophomore from the Comets' 2016 indoor volleyball team to land a scholarship to a four-year college, to Robert Morris University in Chicago. -- Photo by Hugh Cox

Madi Stark, pictured delivering a kill in Palomar's 3-0 sweep of San Bernardino Valley at The Dome last Sept. 4, has received a volleyball scholarship to NCAA Division II Holy Names University in Oakland -- Photo by Hugh Cox

Garcia scholarship brings PC transfer list to 5

SAN MARCOS (8-01-2016) -- Libero Wendy Garcia has become the fifth sophomore from Palomar's 2015 women's indoor volleyball team to secure a scholarship to a four-year uiversity.

Garcia, an El Camino High School product, is headed to Robert Morris University in Chicago. She was an All-Pacific Coast Athltic Conference honorable mention selection and was a key member of coach Karl Seiler's team that went 15-8 and tied for second place in the conference.

Garcia's late service ace gave the Comets a 25-20, 18-25, 25-17, 26-24 victory over rival MiraCosta last Oct. 21 and a sweep of their season series from the Spartans.

Kelli Iverson, an outside hitter from Christian Life Academy in Escondido and a two-time All-PCAC first-team pick, accepted a scholarship  to Division I Grand Canyon University at the semester in January. Iverson played beach volleyball for the the Antelopes in the spring and will play two seasons of indoor volleyball beginning this fall.

Madi Stark, an outside hitter/opposite who was a two-time first-team All-Pacific Coast Athletic Conference selection, is transferring to Holy Names University in Oakland.

Bethany Prochnow, a middle blocker who won second-team All-PCAC honors last fall, received her scholarship to Coker University in Hartsville, South Carolina.

And Vanessa Flores, a defensive specialist who was an All-PCAC honorable mention selection, also is transferring to Holy Names.

Stark and Prochnow are both Elsinore High School products. Flores prepped at Whittier High School.

PALOMAR W. VOLLEYBALL TRANSFERS
Player Pos. 4-Year Program
Kelli Iverson OH Grand Canyon University (D-I)
Madi Stark OH/OPP Holy Names University (D-II)
Bethany Prochnow MB Coker University (D-II)
Vanessa Flores DS Holy Names University (D-II)
Wendy Garcia L Robert Morris University (NAIA)

Palomar's Kelli Iverson has accepted a beach volleyball scholarship to NCAA Division I Grand Canyon University. She played two seasons of indoor volleyball and one season of beach volleyball for the Comets. The 5-foot-11 Iverson, who played outside hitter for Palomar's indoor team, will have three seasons of eligibility in beach volleyall with the Antelopes. -- Photo by Hugh Cox

Iverson earns D-I ride to Grand Canyon

PHOENIX, AZ (1-06-2016) -- Palomar's Kelli Iverson has landed a beach volleyball scholarship to NCAA Division I Grand Canyon University and will have three seasons of eligibility for the Antelopes.

The mid-year transfer becomes coach Karl Seiler's first beach volleyball scholarship player. The Comets fielded their first-ever intercollegiate beach volleyball team in spring 2015 and Iverson teamed with Gabby Hutzler to become Palomar's first winning duo in history as the pair defeated their Fullerton College opponents 21-16, 21-14 in the Comets' first match ever, a 4-1 victory over the Hornets on March 6.

The 5-foot-11 Iverson, who played outside hitter for Palomar's indoor team, will have three seasons of eligibility in beach volleyall with the Antelopes. She came to Palomar from Christian Life Academy in Escondido, was a first-team All-Pacific Coast Athletic Conference selection for Palomar's indoor team this past fall. The Comets placed second in the conference and advanced to the state community college Southern California Regionals.

Grand Canyon loses six sophomores from its 2015 beach volleyball team that went 9-6, defeating LSU, TCU, New Mexico (three times), Loyola Marymount, Concordia of Irvine and San Jose State while losing to Hawaii twice, Pepperdine, Nebraska, USC and Long Beach State.

2015 Season ...

Lerno 10th in nation in NAIA in kills

BOWLING GREEN, Kentucky (12-15-2015) -- Palomar's two-time All-Pacific Coast Athletic Conference first-team volleyball selection was named a first-team All-Mid South Conference selection at the conference tournament banquet at the Corvette Museum.

Lerno, a junior at Cumberland who had played her two seasons at Palomar under Karl Seiler, finished 10th in the nation in NAIA in kills with 4.1 per set (505 kills in 122 sets) during the recently concluded 2015 season.

Lerno, who also starred in softball for the Comets after arriving from Southwest High School in El Centro where she was Imperial Valley Girls Athlete of the Year as a three-sport athlete as a senior, also was 12th in the conference in digs with 330.

During Cumberland's 2015 season, Lerno posted double-figure kills in 27 of her team's 31 matches. She posted a season-high 31 kills at Life University, 28 at Shawnee State and 25 versus the University of the Cumberlands at home.

Lerno is one of three sisters who played intercollegiate sports at Palomar. Her mother is Imperial Valley College softball coach Jill Lerno.

Stark, Iverson, Schade 1st team

SAN DIEGO (12-04-2015) -- Second-place finisher Palomar landed three players on the All-Pacific Coast Athletic Conference first team in women's volleyball.

Named to the first team, in selections by conference coaches: Madi Stark, sophomore outside hitter/opposite from Elsinore High School; Kelli Iverson (left), a sophomore outside hitter/middle blocker from Escondido's Christian Life Academy; and freshman middle blocker/opposite Taylor Schade (right) from Elsinore High.

Three Comets were picked on the second team: Kayla Boatright, freshman setter from Temescal Canyon High School; Hayley Poueu-Silveyra, freshman outside hitter from Great Oak High School; and Bethany Prochnow, sophomore middle blocker from Elsinore High School.

Palomar had three honorable mention selections: Vanessa Flores, sophomore defensive specialist from Whittier High School; Wendy Garcia, sophomore libero from El Camino High School; and Kelsey Payne, sophomore defensive specialist from San Dieguito Academy.

Brooke Callahan-Daywalt of champion Grossmont College was named Player of the Year in the conference. Grossmont's Jamie Ivers, whose team won a sixth consecutive PCAC title, was selected as Coach of the Year.

TOP PHOTO: Chico State transfer Taylor Schade picks up a points in Palomar's 3-1 victory over rival MiraCosta on Wednesday night with one of her six blocks. DIRECTLY ABOVE: Kelli Iverson delivers one of her match-high 11 kills. -- Photos by Hugh Cox

Garcia's lateace dispatches MiraCosta

SAN MARCOS (10-21-2015) -- Palomar swept its season series with rival MiraCosta and took over undisputed second place in the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference women's volleyball standings on Wednesday evening, turning back the visiting Spartans in four sets.

The scores were 25-20, 18-25, 25-17, 26-24, with Libero Wendy Garcia finishing off the Spartans in set 4 by contributing the final two points, including an ace serve for the 26th point.

Coach Karl Seiler's Comets (10-5, 7-2 in the PCAC) have handed MiraCosta (11-3, 6-3) two of its three 2015 losses and are 4-0 vs. the Spartans since MC brought back volleyball last season, 23 years after dropping the sport following its final match in 1991.

Kelli Iverson, Madi Stark, Taylor Schade and Hayley Poeu-Sylveria hammered the Spartans statistically. Iversion contributed 11 kills and three blocks. Stark had 10 kills. Schade delivered five kills and six blocks. Poeu-Sylveria had three blocks.

Kayla Boatright set 31 assists.

The state No. 18-ranked Comets stunned the No. 14-ranked Spartans by jumping out to an 8-1 lead to begin the first set. Palomar led 12-2 at one juncture and Stark's kill for the 25th point ended the set.

After MiraCosta scored 11 of the final 15 points to take the second set, the rest of the night belonged to Palomar before an appreciative crowd at The Dome.

It was close for awhile in set 3 before the Comets rattled off four straight points, punctuated by back-to-back perfectly-placed points by Schade and Stark, to turn a one-point lead into a five-point lead at 19-14. A MiraCosta violation gave Palomar the 25th point and capped a 9-3 run to end the set.

After the Spartans led throughout the early going in the fourth set, the Comets pulled even at 13-13, took a 15-14 lead on an Iverson kill and led most of the way after that before MiraCosta edged in front 24-23. At that juncture, Garcia tied the set at 24-24 by finding a hole in the Spartans' defense, then ended the match with the service ace.

Stark, Comets top MiraCosta

OCEANSIDE (9-18-2015) -- Madi Stark continued her red-hot early season run on Friday as she led Palomar to a 3-2 comeback victory on the road over rival MiraCosta in the Comets' Pacific Coast Athletic Conference women's volleyball opener.

Stark put down 20 kills and added 2 blocks as the Comets came back from losing the first two sets 26-24, 25-13 to defeat the Spartans in the final three sets 26-24, 25-23, 15-11.

MiraCosta was flying high after sweeping defending state community college champion Irvine Valley 3-0.

Taylor Schade and Hayley Poueu-Silveyra each had 8 kills for the Comets. Wendy Garcia contributed 15 digs, and Kayla Boatright (right) had 4 aces.

Luedtke Big Ten bound, to Rutgers

NEW BRUNSWICK, New Jersey (5-13-2015) -- Palomar setter Aspen Luedtke, a 2014 All-Pacific Coast Athletic Conference first-team selection, has accepted a full volleyball scholarship to Rutgers of the Big Ten Conference.

Luedtke, a freshman out of Mission Vista High School, will become the second Palomar volleyball player to play for the Scarlet Knights. Robin Allyn, a Vista High School product who played two seasons for Comets coach Karl Seiler, was a middle blocker for Rutgers during the 1997 and 1998 seasons. Allyn later returned to Palomar as an assistant coach.

Luedtke averaged 7.80 assists per set in making the 2014 All-PCAC team after helping lead the Comets to a 13-3 conference record and second-place finish behind champion Grossmont, which reached the CCCAA state title match. Palomar finished 19-5 overall.

She becomes the second player from Palomar's 2014 volleyball team to sign with a four-year college. Sophomore outside hitter / middle blocker Maci Lerno, who also plays softball for the Comets, previously received a volleyball scholarship to Cumberland University of the NAIA.

Luetke also played for the Comets' first-ever sand volleyball team during the recently-concluded season.

Rutgers, officially "Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey", is the eighth oldest college in the United States, founded in 1766. The Scarlet Knights fielded their first athletic team (rowing) 151 years ago in 1864. Rutgers defeated Princeton at College Field in New Brunswick on Nov. 6, 1869 in the first intercollegiate football game ever played. The Scarlet Knights, formerly a member of the Big East Conference, joined the Big 10 in 2012.

Academically, Rutgers was ranked 52nd in the world in the 2014 Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU).

Luedtke will become the first Palomar female athlete to play for a Big 10 Conference school since Danielle LeBeau, who was the third-leading hitter on Ohio State's 2012 softball team.

PICTURED ABOVE: Palomar coach Karl Seiler and Aspen Luedtke, who has accepted a volleyball scholarship to Rutgers

With Palomar volleyball coach Karl Seiler looking on, Maci Lerno signs a letter of intent with Cumberland University. -- Courtesy photo

PC's Lerno signs with NAIA's Cumberland

SAN MARCOS (3-06-2015) -- Palomar volleyball and softball standout Maci Lerno has signed to play volleyball at Cumberland University in Lebanon, Tennessee. She'll transfer to Cumberland, a member of the Mid-South Conference in the NAIA, after the current Palomar softball season.

Lerno, an outside hitter and middle blocker, was a two-time first-team All-Pacific Coast Athletic Conference selection in volleyball.

Lerno came to Palomar from Southwest High School in El Centro, where she was the Imperial County Girls Athlete of the Year as a senior in 2012-2013 after dominating in volleyball, basketball and softball. She has two older sisters who were softball standouts for the Comets and is the daughter of Imperial Valley College softball coach Jill Lerno.

Cumberland is best known for winning the NAIA Baseball World Series three times, including its 2014 team that upset Lewis-Clark State 3-0 in the championship game. The Bulldogs also had a runner-up finish in the NAIA national women's basketball tournament in 2007.

Cumberland University, founded in 1842, has a strong academic reputation and has developed its strong small-college athletic reputation after originally playing football regularly against major Southern programs in the early 1900s. In 1903, the Bulldogs pinned back-to-back defeats on Alabama 44-0 and LSU 41-0 and won the Southern Intercollegiate Assotiaion championship after tying Clemson 11-11 on Thanksgiving Day.

However, for all its athletic successes, Cumberland is best known for a 222-0 loss to Georgia Tech on Oct. 7, 1916 at Grant Field in Atlanta, the most one-sided loss in college football history.

Maci Lerno finesses the ball over the net for a dink kill to give Palomar an 18-14 lead in the third set Friday night at The Dome. Lerno's 16 kills led the Comets to a 3-0 sweep of rival MiraCosta. Photo by Hugh Cox

Lerno (16 kills), Comets smack Spartans

SAN MARCOS (11-07-2014) -- Maci Lerno smacked a kill down MiraCosta's collective throats in the opening seconds of the first set and Palomar continued on to a 25-16, 25-18, 25-19 women's volleyball sweep at The Dome on Friday night.

With the victory, the Comets swept their season series from their North County rivals 2-0 and closed in on at least a second-place finish in the conference and a sure state community college playoff berth.

Lerno (16 kills, 2.5 blocks, 18 digs, an ace and a .452 hitting percentage) and Madi Stark (10 kills, 10 digs, 1 block) dropped the hammer on the Spartans as the Comets kept their pedal to the metal from the beginning of the match to the end to record their third sweep in a row and 11th sweep of the season.

"It was one of our best matches of the year, by far," said coach Karl Seiler, whose team upped its record to 16-3, 10-2 in conference and drove MiraCosta (9-10, 6-6) deeper into sixth place. The Comets have won five straight matches and 10 of their last 11.

Colleen Jones added 13 digs and 3 service aces for Palomar. Setter Aspen Luedtke had 31 assists.

Brianna Sizemore had 12 kills for the Spartans. Carly Cameron contributed 16 digs. Setter Taylor Little had 27 assists.

Palomar, ranked No. 16 in the state, never trailed in the first set, opening up a 24-12 lead.

In the second set, MiraCosta led briefly at the midway point before the Comets took the lead back at 15-14 on a Lerno kill and steadily drew away. Out of Palomar's last 12 points, Lerno had 4 kills and a block, Stark had 3 kills, Jones had two aces and Luedtke delivered the 25th point with an ace.

In set No. 3, the Spartans hung around for a while, but never threatened. Lerno put down a kill for the 25th point.

Palomar's Maci Lerno (left) and Rylee Zimmerman (right) deliver kills against MiraCosta in the first set on Wednesday night. -- Photos by Hugh Cox. With MiraCosta bringing volleyball back after dropping the sport 23 years ago, it was the first time the two teams have played since 1991.

23 years later, MiraCosta falls again

OCEANSIDE (10-08-2014) -- Palomar College and rival MiraCosta lined up to play each other in women's volleyball on Wednesday evening for the first time in 23 years.

Facing each other at the same MiraCosta gym where Palomar took 57 minutes to dispose of the Spartans 15-5, 15-8, 15-3 on Wednesday night, Nov. 13, 1991, Wednesday's meeting lasted significantly longer and was way more competitive, but had a familiar result. As in both of their 1991 matches when Palomar swept twice, the Comets won.

This time, Palomar outlasted the Spartans in five sets 25-22, 23-25, 24-26, 25-14, 17-15 in a Pacific Coast Athletic Conference match during which the two Highway 78 rivals battled tooth-and -nail, back-and-forth for 2 hours and 18 minutes.

One month and nine days after the teams' last meeting prior to Wednesday, on Dec. 17, 1991, the MiraCosta College board voted 5-2 to drop women's volleyball and four other sports. This is the first season since then that the Spartans have had a team.

The state 22nd-ranked Comets (9-2, 3-1) got a combined 44 kills from Rylee Zimmerman (17), Madi Stark (14) and Maci Lerno (13) in defeating the Brianna Sizemore-led Spartans (4-7, 1-3)

Hannah Seits contributed three blocks. Aspen Luedtke, the Palomar setter, had 42 assists.

After the teams split the first two sets, MiraCosta heated up and opened up a 22-13 lead in the third set before the Comets battled back. Getting monster kills from Seits and Zimmerman, and a key block by Seits, Palomar pulled to within a point, then tied the set 24-24. But the Spartans scored the last two points of the set and took a 2-1 lead into set 4.

The fourth set turned out to be the only one-sided set of the evening. The Comets went on a surge to lead 13-8, forcing a MiraCosta timeout, and it was 19-13 when Lerno served five straight points, making it 24-13.

At that juncture the Spartans broke service, but Stark's kill won the set for Palomar 25-14.

The Comets led most of the way in the fifth and deciding set, but the Spartans kept battling back, tying the score and eventually taking three one-point leads at 13-12, 14-13 and 15-14. With the teams tied 15-15, Lerno put Palomar up by a point 16-15 with a block.

The match-winner came when MiraCosta was called for touching the net.

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