In leading up to the official start of the 2019-20 athletics campaign at Irvine Valley, which starts on Aug. 27 with the IVC men's soccer team hosting Rio Hondo and the Laser women's soccer team playing at San Diego Mesa, the Irvine Valley athletic department will count down the top 10 sports stories from the 2018-19 school year.
The No. 8 story on the list is the number of Irvine Valley student-athletes that received big-time awards this past school year. Included in those awards were those for Orange Empire Conference MVP's, Intercollegiate Tennis Association sophomore of the year and All-American by the American Volleyball Coaches Association. It starts with sophomore women's basketball player Lexi Vail that was picked not only as the OEC most valuable player, but all-state.
Irvine Valley sophomore star point guard Lexi Vail had already been named the Orange Empire Conference most valuable player after helping lead the Lasers to a conference title.
She earned another big honor after the end of the 2018-19 season. Vail was selected first team all-state by the California Community College Women's Basketball Coaches Association.
Vail had a standout season.
She helped Irvine Valley to its second conference title in a row, wrapping up the championship with a 89-64 victory over Cypress.
Vail finished with 18 points, six rebounds and 10 assists in that contest. She played a game-high 39 minutes.
She then had 15 points, seven rebounds and four assists in Irvine Valley's 64-60 upset win at Mt. San Antonio in the second round of the regional playoffs. Irvine Valley was seeded 13th against the fourth-seeded Mounties.
On the year, Vail averaged 12.8 points, 5.4 rebounds, 6.9 assists and 2.3 steals per game.
In conference action alone on her way to the OEC MVP award, Vail averaged 14.5 points, 4.6 rebounds, 7.1 assists and 2.7 steals.
Vail scored in double figures in all but two OEC game. She also finished with 10 or more assists in four conference games, three of which were double-doubles.
Coach Julie Hanks was picked as the OEC coach of the year after helping lead Irvine Valley to a 23-6 record overall.
Volleyball players at IVC also stacked up awards.
In beach, Irvine Valley's pairs of sophomore Renata Bath and freshman Lea Kruse and sophomores Alyssa Vortouni and Emilie Austinwere named the most valuable players of the women's beach volleyball Orange Empire Conference team.
Bath and Kruse and Vortouni and Austin shared the conference title after the final day of the conference pairs championship at Irvine Valley on Apr. 26.
The two teams didn't compete in the final with team regional and then individual regional matches on the schedule for the following week.
Bath and Kruse defeated the Riverside duo of Vashti Elias-Romero and Natalie Escher, 21-14, 21-13, in one semifinal and Vortouni and Austin upset the Cypress duo of Khamis Berneker and Brittany Zavala, 21-13, 21-13, in the other semifinal at the OEC tournament.
Bath, Kruse, Vortouni, Austin, freshmen Anna Unke and Gabriela Griego and the pair of freshmen Alaina Gendale and Kendall Nolan, who were named second team all-conference, all played roles in helping Irvine Valley win the conference's Eastern Division title, go undefeated in OEC action and make the playoffs. All except Nolan were part of IVC's indoor volleyball team that captured a conference title and made a state tournament appearance last fall.
And speaking of that fall indoor volleyball season - after helping Irvine Valley roll to its second Orange Empire Conference title in a row, freshman outside hitter Lea Kruse and sophomore libero Renata Bath were named co-Most Valuable Players when the OEC women's volleyball awards were announced.
Irvine Valley also saw Tom Pestolesi picked as the coach of the year for the conference.
The Lasers were one win away from a perfect regular season, ending with a record of 18-1 overall and 13-1 in conference play. The team moved on to the CCCAA State Championship tournament.
Bath and Kruse led a balanced and deep IVC squad.
Bath made things easier for the Lasers with her ball control. She ranked fifth in the conference in digs per set at 3.58 and had 10 digs or more in 14 of IVC's 19 matches during the regular season, including 11 of 14 matches in conference.
Bath recorded a season-high 19 digs in Irvine Valley's four-set win over Riverside on Oct. 5.
Kruse averaged 3.41 kills and 2.64 digs per set and had a hitting percentage of .323 during the regular season. She ranked third in the conference in kills per set and fourth in hitting percentage. Kruse recorded a season-best 20 kills in Irvine Valley's three-set win at Orange Coast on Nov. 9.
And Bath picked up another award after the end of the indoor season.
She was named All-State by the California Community College Women's Volleyball Coaches Association and second team All-American by the American Volleyball Coaches Association.
Bath was a part of Irvine Valley's 27-0 state championship team in 2017 and also made the state tournament in beach volleyball this past spring with the Lasers. She signed to play at UC Riverside.
And in men's tennis, Leszek Mirecki was named a sophomore player of the year and Ross Duncan was selected coach of the year by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association.
Irvine Valley had a strong year overall, winning the Orange Empire Conference title and making the semifinals of the dual team playoffs. The Lasers ended with a record of 12-2 overall and were 8-0 in conference.