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. 2 story on the list is the special run the Irvine Valley men's volleyball team made to get to the final match of the California Community College Athletic Association State Championship last April. The Lasers finished second in the Orange Empire Conference and then beat Moorpark in the opening round of the playoffs before stunning top-ranked and undefeated Orange Coast in four sets in the semifinals of the state event. Irvine Valley ended up falling to Long Beach City in straight sets in the title match at Fullerton College.
The Irvine Valley men's volleyball team played its best down the stretch of the 2019 season.
Irvine Valley took down previously unbeaten Orange Coast in the semifinals of the CCCAA State Championship event at Fullerton College in April.
The Lasers stunned OCC and came out on top, 26-24, 21-25, 25-21, 26-24, to advance to the state championship final.
The fourth-seeded Lasers (15-7), guided by first-year head coach and former IVC player Ryan Windisch, moved on to take on No. 3 Long Beach City in the title match.
Orange Coast had a record of 22-0 heading into the semifinal with the Lasers and was the overwhelming favorite to capture the state crown.
Sixteen of OCC's 22 wins came by way of three-set sweeps and the Pirates finished their season winning 67 sets while losing only 11.
But the Lasers never wavered.
It was truly a team effort as four IVC players recorded double-digit kills.
Freshman outside hitter Demetre Gossett finished with 16 kills to lead the Lasers, while freshman outside hitter Declan Holder played one of his best matches of the season, adding 11 kills on 15 attempts with no errors.
Freshman setter Jimmy Wilson had 49 assists on the night. Irvine Valley hit .324 as a team for the match compared to just .216 by the Pirates.
Kyle McCauley had 18 kills and 10 digs for Coast, while Jake Loudenback, Clark Steele and Jack Flynn each had seven kills. But, 22 hitting errors (tied for the most this season) and the .216 hitting average as a team (lowest for the Pirates this year) both came at the wrong time of the season and the inspired Lasers took advantage.
Coast led 18-15 in the opening set before five consecutive IVC points gave the Lasers a 20-18 advantage. And Irvine Valley went on to take the first set.
Kills by Gossett and sophomore right side Luke Davis and a hitting error by the Pirates gave the Lasers three straight points and a 26-24 win in the opening set.
OCC's best set of the night came in the second as the Pirates ripped 12 kills with only three errors for a 25-21 win.
In the third set, the Pirates led 13-11, only to see the Lasers respond with seven points in a row and grab the lead for good.
OCC moved within 23-21, but the Lasers took advantage of a pair of hitting errors for the final two points and IVC grabbed a 2-1 lead in the match.
An early 8-4 lead for the Lasers in the fourth set was washed away by a 9-1 OCC run, giving the Pirates a 13-9 advantage.
But IVC clawed back and evened the set at 23. Both teams traded points to tie things at 24 before a Holder kill and a Gossett ace ended the match.
Irvine Valley fell to Long Beach City, 25-22, 25-12, 25-12, in the final two nights later.
The Lasers wrapped up their year with a record of 15-8 overall under Windisch and he said "I already can't wait for next season."
Belsby and Holder were both named to the All-State Tournament team for the Lasers. Belsby had six kills on the night.
Carroll finished with seven kills and Gossett had eight digs against Long Beach City.
Freshman middle blocker Grant Marocchi and Carroll were each named first team all-Orange Empire Conference and Gossett and Belsby were chosen to the second team. Marocchi signed to play at Long Beach State next year.