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2014 season ...

PC holds off Mt. San Jac, still alone in 2nd

SAN MARCOS (10-24-2014) -- Palomar won for the seventh time in its last eight matches in women's volleyball on Friday evening at The Dome, holding off Mt. San Jacinto 3-1 (25-18, 23-25, 25-21, 25-23) in on Think Pink Cancer Awareness Fundraising Night.

With the win, the Comets, who moved to 13-3 on the season and 7-2 in the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference, remained alone in second place in the conference behind unbeaten and state third-ranked Grossmont. The Griffins swept Cuyama on Friday 3-0 (25-9, 25-15, 25-7).

Maci Lerno (left) again led Palomar with 13 kills, 3 blocks and 17 digs. Rylee Zimmerman (right) also was in double figures in kills with 10. Madi Stark had 7 kills and 16 digs. And setter Aspen Luedtke contributed 3.5 blocks and 33 assists.

State leader Taylor Kushner had 18 kills for Mt. San Jacinto (12-6, 5-4). Sam Salcido had 30 digs. Setter Alissya Theis had 34 assists.

After winning the first set decisively, the Comets jumped in front of the Eagles early in the second set and led most of the way until a late run by the visitors.

Palomar led wire-to-wire in the third set, getting four kills, a service ace and a block from Lerno, before Rachel McFarland put the set away with a kill for the 25th point.

Mt. San Jacinto, with its back to the wall, came out firing on all cylinders in fourth set, taking a 3-0 lead and staying in fron until the Comets finally pulled even at 19-19. A block by Hannah Seits put Palomar on top for the first time at 20-19.

With the teams tied 20-20. Zimmerman put down two late kills and Lerno put the set and match away on a dink kill for the 25th and final point of the night.

State No. 19 PC tops No. 23 City, alone in 2nd

SAN MARCOS (10-22-2014) -- Led by a 20-kill performance by Maci Lerno (left), Palomar took over undisputed second place in the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference in women's volleyball on Wednesday night at The Dome.

The Comets (12-3, 6-2), ranked No. 19 in the state, pinned a 3-1 (25-26, 31-29, 19-25, 25-21) defeat on No. 23-ranked San Diego City College. The Knights, who get another shot at Palomar in San Diego in the last match of the regular season on Nov. 21, were tied with the Comets for second place prior to Wednesday.

Lerno's kills, and two kills and a service ace by Madi Stark which gave the Comets their 23rd through 25th points, boosted Palomar to the lop-sided win in the first set.

Lerno's kill put the Comets on top 30-29 in the marathon second set as the Comets battled back from an early 13-8 deficit. Palomar won it when City hit a ball into the net, handing the Comets their 31st point.

Ater the Knights won set No. 3, Maci Stark (above right) contributed five kills late in the third set to give the Comets their 20th, 21st, 22nd, 23rd and deciding 25th points.

Rylee Zimmerman also had a big all-around match for Palomar, which still trails first-place and state third-ranked Grossmont by two matches in the PCAC. The Griffins (17-0, 8-0) defeated Imperial Valley on Wednesday 3-0 (25-10, 25-14, 25-16).

Mt. San Jacinto, a five-set winner over San Diego Mesa, and MiraCosta, which swept winless Southwestern, remain one match behind the Comets in the conference with 5-3 records. Mt. San Jacinto visits The Dome on Friday for Palomar's annual "Think Pink" Cancer Awareness fund-raising match (see below).

Maci Lerno, Palomar's returning first-team All-Pacific Coast Athletic Conference selection, celebrates a point that helped propel the Comets past MiraCosta in the deciding set two weeks ago in Oceanside. Coach Kyle Seiler is at the right of the picture. The Comets will host their annual "Think Pink" match on Friday at 5 p.m. at The Dome when they face Mt. San Jacinto and state kill leader Taylor Kushner. -- Photo by Hugh Cox

Think Pink Night" proceeds will go to Koman

SAN MARCOS (20-21-2014) -- Proceeds from Palomar's "Think Pink" home women's volleyball match against Mt. San Jacinto and state kill leader Taylor Kushner on Friday evening will be donated to the Susan G. Koman Foundation for Cancer Research.

"We're asking the campus community to join in this effort," Palomar athletic director Scott Cathcart said.

Last year, Susan G. Komen's community grants provided financial and social support for more than 50,000 families impacted by breast cancer. The Foundation's methods inclue education, sjpport for research, extension of grants to provide financial and emotional assistance to those affected and to advocate for better public breast cancer policy. In the broader sence, the foundation works to ensure quality care for all and invest in the science to find a cure.

Prior to Friday's match, the state No. 19-ranked Comets will host No. 23-ranked San Diego City College on Wednesday at 5 p.m. in a match-up of the two teams that are tied for second place behind state No. 3-ranked Grossmont in the conference.

Palomar comes in to this week's two home matches with records of 11-3 on the season and 5-2 in the PCAC.

G-House shows why it's ranked 3rd in the state

SAN MARCOS (10-17-2014) -- Grossmont College, which entered its Pacific Coast Athletic Conference first-place showdown with Palomar undefeated, wasted little time Friday demonstrating why it reached the state championship match last season and why it's currently ranked third in California.

The Griffins turned back the Comets 3-0 (25-9, 25-23, 25-18) at the Dome, advancing to 16-0 on the season and 7-0 in conference along the way.

Palomar (11-3, 5-2) gave the visitors everything they could handle in the second set, and had its moments in the third set. But the Comets were never able to climb back into the match after the devastating opening set.

Palomar led three times as the second set wore on by scores of 14-13, 17-16 and 19-18. The Comets also jumped out to a 2-0 lead to begin the third set.

Maci Lerno (left) came up big in defeat for the Comets with 10 kills, 8 digs and 1.5 blocks. Madi Stark (right) added 6 kills and 2 aces.

For Grossmont, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo transfer Lexi Reddick led in kills with 17. Alyssa Cortez had five kills.

PC sweeps Mesa, awaits Grossmont on Friday

SAN DIEGO (10-15-2014) -- State No. 22-ranked Palomar had its way with No. 18-ranked San Diego Mesa 3-0 (25-18, 27-25, 25-18) on Wednesday night and will host unbeaten and state third-ranked Grossmont on Friday in an early Pacific Coast Athletic Conference women's volleyball showdown.

The Comets, who have won five straight matches and eight of their last nine, will come into Friday's 5 p.m. match at The Dome 11-2 on the season and 5-1 in the PCAC. The Griffins, who finished second in the 2013 CCCAA state tournament, are 15-0 (6-0 in conference).

Grossmont remained undefeated for 2014 on Wednesday by sweeping Mt. San Jacinto 3-0 (25-22, 25-18, 25-17). The Eagles came into that match with an 11-3 record.

Madi Stark (left) put down nine kills and had five digs and two aces to pace Palomar statistically against Mesa. Maci Lerno had seven kills and two service aces. Rylee Zimmerman contributed seven kills and five digs.

Setter Aspen Leudtke (right) had 26 assists.

TOP PHOTO: Brittany Mitchell (left) and Gabby Hutzler (right) team up on a double dig for Palomar in its 3-0 sweep of Cuyamaca on Friday evening. DIRECTLY ABOVE: Maci Lerno digs the ball as Rachel McFarland (5) and Aspen Luedke (6) look on. -- Photos by Hugh Cox. BELOW LEFT: Colleen Jones, who had seven kills for the Comets. BELOW RIGHT: Megan Wood. She served the final three points in the second set

Palomar sweeps Cuyamaca, is 10-2 on year

SAN MARCOS (10-10-2014) -- Warming up for a huge week, Palomar kept up its winning ways in women's volleyball on Wednesday at The Dome, sweeping visiting Cuyamaca 3-0 (25-14, 25-16, 25-13).

The Comets, ranked as high as No. 14 in the state community college volleyball poll earlier in the season and currently ranked 22nd, advanced to 10-2 on the season and 4-1 in the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference.

They've won four matches in a row and seven of their last eight going into crucial PCAC matchups next week with state No. 21 Mesa on the road on Wednesday and state No. 3-ranked Grossmont at home on Friday. The Griffins were last season's state runners-up.

Maci Lerno led with nine kills and Colleen Jones added seven kills against the Coyotoes in a match in which coach Karl Seiler was able to clear his bench early. Lerno provided the Comets with their 25th point in each of the first two sets, but was long gone by the time a Cuyamaca player hit the ball into the net for the final point in the third set.

Aspen Luedtke had 18 assists and six digs for Palomar. Kelly Iverson had two blocks. Megan Wood served the last three points in the second set.

Courtney Andreotti had 10 digs to lead the Coyotes (0-14, 0-6).

Grossmont came from behind to defeat Mesa on Friday 3-2 (25-12, 18-25, 23-25, 25-15, 15-7) and remain undefeated on the season at 14-0 in conference and 5-0 in conference. Palomar, Mesa and Mt. San Jacinto, which defeated Southwestern 3-0 (25-9, 25-22, 22-19), are all one match behind the Olympians at 4-1. 

ABOVE: Palomar's Maci Lerno (left) and Rylee Zimmerman (right) deliver kills against MiraCosta in the first set on Wednesday night. -- Photos by Hugh Cox. BELOW: Aspen Luedtke, who contributed 42 assists for the Comets. With MiraCosta bringing volleyball back after dropping the sport 23 years ago, it was the first time the two teams have played since 1991.

Same old story 23 years later for PC, MiraCosta

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.

View, Download Hugh Cox's Photos From This Event

Lerno (11 kills), Comets sweep Imperial Valley

SAN MARCOS (10-03-2014) -- Maci Lerno (left) put down 11 kills on Friday as Palomar swept Imperial Valley 3-0 (25-17, 25-13, 25-16) in a Pacific Coast Athletic Conference match at The Dome.

The Comets, who were ranked No. 14 in the state before dropping their conference opener to Mt. San Jacinto last week, advanced to 8-2 on the season and 2-1 in conference.

Colleen Jones had six kills for Palomar. Setter Aspen Luedtke contributed 31 assists.

The Arabs led early in the first set 1-0 and 3-2. Lerno's kill made it Palomar 4, IVC 3 and the Comets never trailed again.

The second set was tied twice early, at 6-6 and 7-7 but Palomar went on a run to score 18 of the last 24 points to win it going away. Lerno's dink for the Comet's 25th point finished off the Arabs.

Rachel McFarland served the final point of the the third set, with Jones' kill ending the match.

Palomar has won four of its most recent five matches, giving the Comets momentum going into next Wednesday's match at rival MiraCosta.

Palomar sweeps to PCAC victory on the road

CHULA VISTA (10-01-2014) -- Palomar wasted little time disposing of Southwestern in three sets in a Pacific Coast Athletic Conference women's volleyball match Wednesday evening in the Jaguars' gym.

The set scores were 24-14, 24-14, 24-13.

Maci Lerno knocked down eight kills, while Rylee Zimmerman, Rachel McFarland and Madi Stark each contributed six kills for the Comets (7-2, 1-1), who have won four of their last five matches. Lerno also had two blocks.

Setter Aspen Leudtke had 25 assists and five aces.

Palomar returns to The Dome on Friday to take on Imperial Valley in another PCAC match, beginning at 5 p.m.

The Comets, ranked No.14 for three straight weeks, are bidding to rebound into the state poll conducted by the California Community College Women's Volleyball Coaches Association. They were unranked this week after losing at Mt. San Jacinto last Wednesday night.

PICTURED: Madi Stark puts down a kill for Palomar. No. 11 for the Comets is Hanna Seits. -- Photo by Russell Scoffin, Southwestern College

24th-ranked Eagles top PC in conference opener

SAN JACINTO (9-24-2014) -- Mt. San Jacinto, which is unbeaten against California opponents but ranked only 24th in the state, surprised 14th-ranked Palomar 3-0 in the teams' Pacific Coast Athletic Conference opener on Wednesday evening.

The Eagles, playing at home, won 25-18, 25-22, 25-16.

For Palomar, Maci Lerno led in kills with seven. Kelli Iverson had five kills.

Mt. San Jacinto has lost only to Arizona Western College in going 7-1 this season. The Comets saw their 2014 record fall to 6-2.

State No. 14 Comets go 3-0 at Mesa Invitational

EL CAJON / SAN DIEGO (9-21-2014) -- Coach Karl Seiler's Palomar women's volleyball squad, ranked No. 14 in the California Community College Coaches Association state poll for the second week in a row, swept to three victories in three matches in the two-day San Diego Mesa Invitational.

The Comets opened with a 3-0 (25-22, 25-21, 30-28) sweep of Cerro Coso on Friday.

They came back Saturday to defeat Citrus 3-0 (25-22,25-11, 25-23) and the NJCAA's Phoenix College 3-2 (25-21, 25-23, 22-25, 18-25, 16-14).

Maci Lerno had a big tournament for Palomar, which has started the season 7-1.

On Saturday, Lerno contributed 23 kills, 2 aces and 14 digs vs. the Owls and the Bears.

Rylee Zimmerman (above right, 14 kills, 5 aces,24 digs), Madi Stark (18 kills, 7 aces, 2 digs), Aspen Luedtke I51 assists) and Kelli Iverson (11 kills) also played major roles in Saturday's victories.

Aspen Luedtke of Palomar returns the ball right back at Irvine Valley's Marisa Doran on Wednesday at The Dome. -- Photo by Hugh Cox

State No. 2 Lasers hold off No. 14 Comets in 3

SAN MARCOS (9-10-2014) -- Palomar's three-match win streak to begin the season went by the boards in three sets in its home opener on Wednesday at The Dome, courtesy of the state's No. 2-ranked community college team, Irvine Valley.

The Lasers swept the state 14th-ranked Comets 25-18, 25-17, 25-15 as the visitors advanced to 3-0 on the season, including a five-set victory over the nation's second-ranked NAIA team, Concordia University of Irvine.

Palomar played its best volleyball early in the match, coming back from a 6-0 deficit in the first set to pull even at 6-6 and then 7-7. The Comets also were down by only one point, at 13-12, midway through the second half. But they never were able to take a lead in 1-hour, 44-minute non-conference match-up.

State No. 14 Comets host No. 2 Irvine Valley

SAN MARCOS (9-09-2014) -- The Palomar women's volleyball team, which is off to a 3-0 start and is ranked No. 14 in the state, could hardly have picked a tougher opponent for Wednesday's home opener than Irvine Valley, the team the Comets will play at 5 p.m. at The Dome.

The Lasers (2-0) come in ranked second in the state and are fresh from a five-set victory over Concordia University of Irvine, the No. 2 team in the nation in the NAIA. Concordia is ranked only behind the defending NAIA national champion, University of Texas at Brownsville. Concordia has been ranked in the top three in the last 37 national polls.

For its part, Irvine Valley is ranked behind only defending state champion Cabrillo, which has a 33-match winning streak, in the California Community College Women's Volleyball Coaches Association poll that was released on Monday.

Grossmont, which lost to Cabrillo in the 2013 state championship match, is No. 3 in the state rankings. In the Southern California poll, Irvine Valley is ranked No. 1, followed by Grossmont at No. 2, El Camino at No. 3, Santa Barbara City College at No. 4, Golden West at No. 5, San Diego Mesa at No. 7 and Palomar at No. 8.

Palomar, behind kill leader and returning first-team All-Pacific Coast Athletic Conference selection Maci Lerno (above left), reached the No. 14 spot in the state rankings with victories over state No. 16 Chaffey 3-1, Pasadena City College (3-0) and San Bernardino Valley (3-0).

Lerno, a 5-foot-9 sophomore outside hitter / middle blocker from Southwest High School in El Centro who also starts for the Comets' softball team, is averaging 3.1 kills per set. Aspen Luedtke (above right), Palomar's freshman setter from Mission Vista High School, averages 8.30 assists per set.

Irvine Valley is led by Annie Mitchem, a 6-foot-2 middle blocker from Friendswood High in Friendswood, Texas who put down 16 kills in the win over Concordia and 19 kills in a 3-0 sweep over state No. 18 College of the Canyons.

Palomar is 3-0 after sweeping San Bernardino

SAN BERNARDINO (9-05-2014) -- Palomar is off to a 3-0 start after going on the road again and sweeping its non-conference volleyball match from San Bernardino Valley 3-0 (25-19, 25-14, 25-17) on Friday night at the SBVC Women's Gym.

Madi Stark (left)  and Maci Lerno led the Comets with eight kills apiece. Rylee Zimmerman (right) had four digs, and Aspen Luedtke contribted 24 assists from her setter position.

Palomar will be back in action on Wednesday, when the Comets host one of the top teams in the state, Irvine Valley, at the Dome. The match is slated for a 5 p.m. start.

Lerno's 23 kills lead PC to pair of victories

EL CAJON (8-30-2014) -- Led by returning All-Pacific Coast Athletic Conference selection Maci Lerno's 23 kills, Palomar's women's volleyball team opened its 2014 season by defeating Pasadena City College and Chaffey on Saturday in the Grossmont College Quad.

The Comets swept Pasadena 3-0 (25-18, 27-25, 25-23). They turned back Chaffey 3-1 (28-26, 25-13, 23-25, 25-8).

Lerno (left) put down 14 kills, Rylee Zimmerman 8 and Madi Stark 8 against Chaffey. Stark also had 15 digs.

Kelli Iversion led in blocks wit 3. Amanda Gibson contributed 9 digs, and Aspen Luedtke had 32 assists.

In the Pasadena match, Lerno had 9 kills and 11 digs. Stadi had 7 kills and 3 service aces. Luedtke contributed 27 assists.

Comets to begin 2014 season as road warriors

SAN MARCOS (8-11-2014) -- Coach Karl Seiler's Palomar women's volleyball squad will be on the road for most of the early season in 2014, with its home opener vs. last year's third-place state finisher Irvine Valley on Wednesday, Sept. 10 at 5 p.m. at The Dome, sandwiched between two stretches of away matches.

It will be the Comets' only non-conference home match of the regular season, and their only appearance at The Dome in a 32-day stretch that lasts from late August to the first week of October.

The Comets begin the season Aug. 30 against Pasadena City College (at noon) and Chaffey (at 4 p.m.), both on a neutral court at Grossmont College.

They'll travel to San Bernardino Valley on Sept. 5, will host Irvine Valley, then go back on the road to play in the San Diego Mesa Tournament on Sept. 19-20 before opening Pacific Coast Athletic Conference play at Mt. San Jacinto (on Sept. 24) and Southwestern (on Oct. 1).

Palomar eventually returns to The Dome for a PCAC match against Imperial Valley on Friday, Oct. 3, at 5 p.m.

The Comets have one returning All-Pacific Coast Athletic Conference first-team selection returrning, Maci Lerno.

MEET THE 2013 COMETS
No. 1 No. 2 No. 3 No. 4 No. 5
Jelisa Navarette Maddy Scarlett Rocky Crook R. Zimmerman R. McFarland
No.  7 No. 8 No. 9 No. 11 No. 12
Katy Harlow Ashli Pardee Colleen Jones Kristi Mankey Maci Lerno
No. 13 No. 14 No. 17 No. 18 Redshirt
Nicole Alderman Kayla Hutchinson M. Middleton Hannahh Seits Alex Sendejas
         
Photos by Melinda Finn
Redshirt      
F. Sagapolu      

Off-season ...

ABOVE: Palomar's 2013 club sand volleyball team with coach Karl Seiler. The Comets will field a varsity intercollegiate team this upcoming spring. -- Courtesy photo

Addition of sand v-ball brings sport total to 22

SAN MARCOS (5-29-2014) -- Palomar has added women's sand volleyball as its 22nd intercollegiate varsity sport, Director of Athletics Scott Cathcart has announced.

The Comets will field its first team next spring with Karl Seiler, their indoor women's volleyball coach for the last 18 years, as head coach. Seiler, who will be head coach of both teams, has guided Palomar to conference indoor championships in 1996, 2002, 2003, 2008 and 2009.

He'll step down as an assistant for the men's volleyball team, which also plays in the spring.

The Californnia Community College Athletic Association added sand volleyball as a varsity sport at its March convention. It's been a club sport for the past two springs.

Palomar will play in the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference along with five other first-year programs -- Grossmont College, MiraCosta College, San Diego City College, San Diego Mesa College and Southwestern College.

Seiler, the Comets' coach, played at Torrey Pines High School and for Palomar's men's volleyball team in 1988 and 1989 and has a Bachelor's degree from San Diego State University and a Master's degree from Azusa Pacific University. He's a full-time instructor in Palomar's Kinesiology Department. He said he's actively seeking players to play for both Palomar's sand volleyball and indoor volleyball teams.

"Sand volleyball gives us 11 men's sports and 11 women's sports and is a natural fit for our (athletics) program," Cathcart said. "It will provide a major enchancement to our established indoor program while expanding our offerings (in women's sports)."

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