The Orange Coast College men’s volleyball clinched the Orange Empire Conference title on the back of a 12-game win streak, defeating Irvine Valley College Lasers in five hard-fought sets Wednesday.
With the Pirates trailing the Irvine Valley Lasers 13-6 in set five, the unimaginable happened. They reeled off seven straight points to tie the set at 13-13, they survived a match point trailing 14-13 and eventually completed the comeback, winning the match 18-25, 25-16, 19-25, 32-20, 16-14, in a thriller at IVC.
“Our guys just didn’t want to lose to them. I think when it came down to it, just like when we played them here [at OCC], when it got tough, we played with a little more grit,” OCC head coach Travis Turner said.
With the win, the Pirates (17-2, 7-0 in OEC) have clinched the Orange Empire Conference championship after guaranteeing a share of the title with their win against Fullerton Friday.
Before OCC could get to the fifth set, it had to survive in the fourth set, while trailing 2-1 in the match. The two teams were tied at 21-21 when OCC scored three straight points to give them their first set point at 24-21. The Lasers didn’t go down without a fight, as they scored the next four points to put them at match point at 25-24.
OCC fought off match point two different times and had set point seven different times in the fourth set. On the seventh set point, with OCC leading 31-30, the Pirates took the fourth set from a double block from sophomore middle blocker Will Donald and sophomore opposite Wyatt Henson.
The fifth set lent itself almost primarily to the Lasers. Breaking an early 2-2 tie in the set, a red card seemed to make no dent in IVC’s momentum as it maintained its hold over the Pirates. A 13-6 disadvantage for OCC forced Turner to call a timeout.
The time out seemed to galvanize the Pirates, as they went on a 7-0 run to tie it up at 13-13 off of a service ace from sophomore setter Colby Elder. An OCC service error gave IVC match point at 14-13, but freshman outside hitter Kyle McCauley tied it up at 14-14 with a kill.
The next two points belonged to OCC, as a kill from Henson and a service ace from McCauley gave OCC the fifth set 16-14 and the match, allowing the team to storm the court after a hard-fought win.
The Pirates conclude their regular season Friday against Santiago Canyon College in the Basil H. Peterson Gymnasium at 6 p.m.