After a sluggish start, the No. 20-ranked Orange Coast College women’s volleyball team fell to top ranked Irvine Valley College in three straight sets in the final regular season game in the Basil H. Peterson Gym on Friday.
Starting the night off celebrating sophomore night, OCC honored libero Mackenzie Bill, opposite hitter Evelyn Awai, setter Camryn Kaina, and libero Rylee Adair for their two years of dedication to the Pirates.
“This is such a great sophomore class. They’re really good people and athletes, and have been so great to coach,” head coach Chuck Cutenese said. “I can’t say enough about how great they’ve been for the program these past two years. They’re a group I can say I am going to miss.”
To go along with her sophomore honors, Adair was celebrated for her record-breaking night in October, when she set the Orange Coast College all-time digs record, when she eclipsed 926 digs. The accolades for Adair didn’t stop there however, when she would become the first woman in OCC history to reach 1,000 career digs during Fridays match against IVC.
Entering the match, Adair had totaled 495 digs on the season, which would be good enough for fourth in the entire state.
With both teams having already punched their ticket to the Southern California Regionals, Coast looked to be the team to hand the reigning state champion Lasers its first loss in 45 matches, a win streak dating back to November, 2016.
Battling back and forth for the first few points in the opening set, Irvine took a slight advantage in the early part of the set, and never looked back, forcing Cutenese to take a time out when trailing 10-5. IVC stretched its lead to nine when freshman middle blocker Lilly Johnson earned a kill to stop IVC’s strong run.
With OCC’s sloppy play late in the set, and back to back net violations, IVC cruised to a dominating first set victory by a score of 25-14.
“I was just a little disappointed tonight. We were nervous at the beginning of the match and we didn’t settle down,” Cutenese said. “You have to acknowledge the fact that they’re a good team, and they’re an undefeated team for a reason.”
Coast finally figured it out in the third set, when the team went on an eight-point run, and an early 10-3 lead on the state champs. With OCC rolling, and having everything going its way, a thunderous “Lets Go Coast” broke out in the stands, the loudest the fans would be the entire night.
Adair and freshman outside hitter Bailey Coffin left everything they had on the court, diving left and right to try and save the powerful hits from the arms of IVC, but could not stop the surge, allowing them to storm all the way back to erase the seven point lead the Pirates had built up.
Using her abilities as a setter, Kaina dumped the ball just over the outstretched arms of the IVC block attempt, settling the Pirates down and back to a controlling two-point lead.
The Pirates found itself a golden opportunity to force a fourth set sitting on a set point, when Coffin overswung her kill, and everyone in the gym watched silently as the ball soared out of bounds and tying the game at 24, effectively erasing the set point. On her next attempt, Coffin made up for her error, smacking a bullet of a kill onto the court, earing the Pirates its second set point.
IVC again would rally, and with two soft kills just over the Coast blocking team, the Lasers rallied all the way back, and extended their unbeaten streak to 46 matches.
“We just didn’t execute our game plan. The hard part in game three was having two swings to send it to a fourth and not being able to finish it out,” Cutenese said. “We had nothing to lose. For us the loss does nothing for our season and a win only would have propelled us in our seeding.”
Thanks to a forfeit earlier in the season by Santa Ana College, the Pirates currently are holding onto a half game lead on second place in the Orange Empire Conference over Cypress College. Coast has completed its OEC conference play with a record of 11-4, and its playoff seeding will be determined on how Cypress fares against the Lasers.
“If we get a good seed we have a really good shot making it to the state championship because everyone has been beating everyone in other conferences,” Cutenese said.
The Pirates will close out their regular season on the road in a non-conference match against Citrus College today at 5 p.m.
More information on when and where the Pirates will be playing in the playoffs will come later in the week and can be found at occpirateathletics.com.