First published in the Oct. 21 print issue of the Pasadena Outlook. By Jonathan Williams
Pink pig costumes. Pink face paint. Pink uniforms.
It was a pink October inside the gym at Flintridge Sacred Heart.
It was also the first time since 2019 crowds were able to pack the house for the fourth annual Dig Pink match at FSHA against visiting Mayfield Senior School. The student sections rocked the bleachers with thunderous stomps from baseline to baseline.
Each section wielded chants of “we can’t hear you” and “look at the scoreboard,” as each section jousted in a duel of roars in what was taylormade rivalry game between the two schools.
Mayfield Senior dug deep in an epic come-from-behind win on the road against Flintridge Sacred Heart in a five-set thriller by scores of 23-25, 25-27, 25-23, 25-16, 15-7.
The Cubs improved their record to 26-10 overall (11-1 in league) with the nonleague victory. The Tologs are 24-14 (4-4).
“This is awesome,” said Mayfield head coach Hugo Ayala, who guided the Cubs to their first win at FSHA since 1994. “This is a big accomplishment for us going into the playoffs. I told the girls in the first set, bend but don’t break. We bent game one, we bent game two but we didn’t break. It was a big win going into the playoffs and that’s where our focus is now.”
Mayfield lost the first two sets by a very tight margin 23-25 and 25-27. Only four points separated the teams at that point.
“I’m kind of all over the place right now,” Mayfield junior outside hitter Annelise Rising said. “They’re like our biggest competitor and we really wanted to beat them.”
Rising finished the match with 30 kills on 65 attempts with two blocks, four assists and 25 digs.
At the end of the third set, it was all locked up at 23-23. Flintridge Sacred Heart had a chance to close out the match but Mayfield rallied and stole the set on a big swing from Rising to force a fourth set. After that, the momentum was in Mayfield’s favor.
“Like I told the girls, I believe this is the best match we’ve played all year,” Flintridge Sacred Heart head coach Trent Tcheng said.
The Tologs made an adjustment at the crucial 23-23 tie in the third set which led to the eventual drop and forced a fourth set with Mayfield. After that, it was all Mayfield for the rest of the match.
“I have to trust my players in certain situations.” Tcheng said. “Ultimately, it didn’t pay off this time but it’s paid off before. If my players feel confident in something, I’m going to trust them. They’re the ones that are on the court. They see the game a little differently than I do.”
Flintridge Sacred Heart senior outside hitter Peyton DeJardin finished the match with 25 kills on 61 swings, 22 digs and an ace.
“It’s frustrating,” DeJardin said. “It was a great battle for us. It was definitely disappointing and we need to learn how to capitalize on our runs.”
DeJardin said she loves the atmosphere and playing in the Dig Pink game every year.
Donations were taken at the door when the game first started and only 160 students were sold for each school.
“It’s great seeing everyone come together for a good cause,” DeJardin said.
For the Cubs offensively, Kayla Bandow added 13 kills on 41 swings, Amelia Velasquez added six kills on 23 swings, Audrey Nuckols added six kills on 16 swings and Kelsey Babcock added three kills on 11 swings.
Defensively, Rising, Velasquez and Nuckols had all six blocks for the Cubs. Maddie Kaufman had 25 digs, followed by Kate Hillman with 14 digs, Rising with 11 digs and Velasquez rounded it out with 10 digs.