Men's volleyball team takes on Orange Coast in state semifinals

Courtesy of On My Game Photography
Courtesy of On My Game Photography

Irvine Valley's men's volleyball team will face a rival with a berth in the California Community College Athletic Association State Championship final match on the line when it plays against Orange Coast on Thursday night at Fullerton College.

The two Orange Empire Conference teams face off in a semifinal at 7 p.m.

Orange Coast is the second seed with Irvine Valley seeded third. The winner will take on either No. 1 Long Beach City or fourth-seeded LA Pierce in the final match on Saturday at 7 p.m.

This will be the third meeting of the season between the Pirates (19-2) and Lasers (16-5), with OCC winning the first two matches.

Orange Coast has won six of the eight sets played this year, but all were close and IVC had its chances to pull off an upset, taking a 2-1 lead in sets two weeks ago before losing, 16-14, in the fifth set to the Pirates.

Even in a sweep by OCC on Mar. 23, two of the three sets went down to the wire.

The Lasers eliminated El Camino in the first round of the playoffs (25-19, 25-23, 25-19).

They are led by first team all-Orange Empire Conference players in Matt August and Patrick Furlong and conference setter of the year Austin McBain.

August averages 3.08 kills and 1.93 blocks per set and is hitting .470 on the year, Furlong is averaging 3.03 kills and McBain is averaging 10.19 assists per set. August ranks first in the state in blocks per set and second in hitting percentage, Furlong is second in the state in total kills (233) and McBain is second in the state in assists per set.

Freshman outside hitter Sean Carroll averages 2.59 kills and 1.20 digs per set, sophomore outside hitter Brennan To averages 1.88 kills and Yogi averages 3.00 digs per set for the Lasers.

To and Yogi were each named second team all-conference.

Orange Coast has earned sweeps in 15 of its 19 wins this season and its only two losses on the year have come to top-ranked Long Beach City.

OCC has been led offensively by outside hitter Kyle McCauley and opposite Wyatt Henson.

McCauley leads the Pirates with 199 kills to go along with 102 digs and 17 aces, while Henson has ripped 148 kills to go along with 54 digs and 48 total blocks.

But, the offense doesn't stop there for the defending state champions. Players like Zane Moothart (99 kills), Will Donald (86 kills, team-best 79 blocks), Bradley Hankus (75 kills, 60 blocks) and Clark Steele (65 kills, 29 blocks) give head coach Travis Turner several options on the offensive side of the court.

Setter and Orange Empire Conference MVP Colby Elder has dished out 476 assists to go along with 89 digs and 18 aces, while fellow setter Jacob Gilliam has contributed 243 assists, giving the Pirates several options on a two-setter attack.

Defensively, OCC has notched 726 digs and is led by Matthew Johnson (129).