As we get closer to the No. 1 Irvine Valley athletics sports story of the year next week, we move on to No. 4 where IVC showed once again that it is dominant on the sand. With the sport of women's sand volleyball exploding on the college level, IVC is one of the teams at the forefront.
Coach Tom Pestolesi and staff had the Lasers ready to take on all-comers this past season, including several from the Division 1 level. And Irvine Valley defeated all seven community college teams it played this season 5-0.
Irvine Valley's women's sand volleyball defended its Intercollegiate Sand Volleyball Conference State Championships title in April at Irvine Valley.
It was the third year of the event and featured the top four community college women's sand volleyball teams.
"The sport continues to grow each year," IVC Coach Tom Pestolesi said. "The action is faster, the play is better and it will just continue to improve. Even bigger things are in store for this sport at the college level."
On the community college level, the sport is scheduled to become an actual varsity sport for the spring of 2015.
It has been played as a club sport the past three years.
Over those three years, IVC has finished second and then won two straight titles.
The Lasers have dominated the last two events. In 2013, IVC beat Fullerton, 5-0, San Diego City, 5-0, and Golden West, 4-1, to take the title.
Then earlier this year, Irvine Valley beat Fullerton, Grossmont and Orange Coast each by the score of 5-0.
The Irvine Valley teams of Marisa Doran and Kobi Pekich, Becky Moodie and Annie Mitchem, Haley Whyte and Emily Daily, Alexis Radecki and Katherine Kolodeij and Shaelyn Perez and Hailey Jones led the team to the state title.
Irvine Valley has taken the lead in the sport in part to scheduling matches against many four-year schools, including several that play NCAA Division 1. They had schools like Cal State Bakersfield, UCLA, Grand Canyon University, Concordia, Loyola Marymount, Long Beach State, Arizona, Hawaii, Long Beach State and Cal Poly on their schedule this season.
Irvine Valley won its match against Concordia, 4-1.
"We lost most, but we were competitive in many of the individual matches against all of the schools," Pestolesi said. "Those types of contests show our girls what it takes to play at that next level and that, honestly, they really aren't that far from getting there."
Irvine Valley has already had two players sign sand volleyball scholarships with four-year schools.
Former standouts Allie Cook (Arizona) and Alex Goodman (Grand Canyon) each played as juniors for their teams this season.
Irvine Valley's title in sand volleyball followed up an impressive indoor showing by the women's indoor team last fall. Irvine Valley won the Orange Empire Conference title and ended up finishing third in the state.
*In leading up to the start of the 2014-15 athletics campaign at Irvine Valley, which starts on Aug. 25 with women's volleyball, the Laser athletic department will countdown the top 10 IVC sports stories from the 2013-14 school year.
The countdown will begin on Thursday, Aug. 7 with the No. 10 story of the year and work its way down to No. 1 on Thursday, Aug. 21.
Some of the top stories in the running for the top 10 include special seasons by the women's soccer, men's tennis, women's volleyball and women's sand volleyball teams along with individual accolades earned by several IVC athletes for hard work both on the playing fields and courts and in the classroom.