In leading up to the start of the 2015-16 athletics campaign at Irvine Valley, which starts on Aug. 24 with women's volleyball competing in the Azusa Pacific scrimmage tournament, the Laser athletic department will count down the top 10 IVC sports stories from the 2014-15 school year.
Tied for No. 10 on the list is women's volleyball player Kobi Pekich earning the Orange Empire Conference female Character Champion Award for 2014-15. Pekich was a state champion and key player on both the IVC women's indoor and sand volleyball teams. She also won an individual title in women's sand volleyball. But the award is given to those that do as much off the courts and fields as on them. Pekich showed sportsmanship, respect, caring, fairness, civility, honesty, integrity and responsibility.
Sophomore women's volleyball player Kobi Pekich is the latest Irvine Valley student-athlete to win the Orange Empire Conference Fair-Play Character Champion award.
Each year, the conference names one male and female student athlete from each member college to the Character Champion Team while picking overall winners of the Character Champion Award.
The inaugural award was given out following the 2009-10 academic year. Since its inception, the OEC Character Champion Award has been sponsored by Fair-Play Scoreboards.
Irvine Valley has had an overall winner each and every year.
Caitlin Segert (2010), Chris Popke (2011), Melanie Kashanchi and Kevin Riguette (2012), Josh Popke (2013) and Marisa Doran (2014) were previous overall winners for Irvine Valley.
The award is given to the student athlete who displays the following values; sportsmanship, respect, caring, fairness, civility, honesty, integrity and responsibility shown through a specific action, ideally directed toward an opponent during competition.
The criteria also includes the action of putting the team and teammates before oneself while acting as a positive role model.
Pekich is the 2014-15 female winner.
She was selected as the OEC's Female Character Champion after displaying her ability to juggle school, indoor and sand volleyball, as well as community service.
As a student, Pekich has maintained a perfect 4.0 grade point average, and due to Advanced Placement units and full college workloads had already earned an AA even before her sophomore season has ended. She is a two-time IVC Scholar-Athlete and four-time member of the IVC Dean's List. She is currently sorting through three D-II scholarship offers to play volleyball and continue her academic career, with an eventual goal of an MFA with an emphasis in teaching in the Arts.
Kobi also has a commitment to leadership as the two-time captain of the annual Dig Pink breast cancer fundraiser at IVC. But, the reach of her service exceeds the Irvine Valley campus.
She works in a homeless outreach for her church, feeding people breakfast and providing them with groceries. She packs Christmas gifts during the holidays at the Samaritan's Purse warehouse for underprivileged children around the world.
And she continues to work with agencies she met as a high school students, including cleaning and painting the houses of people experiencing various hardships, cleaning local parks, and a recent trip to Costa Rica to serve the churches and public schools, and to work with day care organizations in the slums of the nation's capital (San Jose).
Her athletic achievements are well-documented. After helping lead IVC to a third-place finish at the CCCAA State Championships in 2013, Pekich played a big part in Irvine Valley winning its first-ever state title in the fall of 2014. IVC finished 27-0 overall, and she was instrumental in both seasons. She was named all-tournament in 2014 as IVC took the title.
A sophomore do-everything outside hitter and two-year starter, Pekich was selected first team all-Orange Empire Conference. She was a second-team player in 2013. Pekich helped IVC go undefeated in conference the last two seasons. She averaged 2.00 kills and 2.72 digs per set overall and finished with 24 aces during the 2014 season.
She had double-digits in kills in five matches this past season with a high of 16 in an important four-set win for IVC at Fullerton during conference. She had 12 matches with 10 or more digs and finished with 14 and then 13 digs in IVC's final two victories at the state tournament.
Pekich had 17 kills, 15 digs and hit .359 in a big four-set win for the Lasers at state-ranked Cypress and then finished with 17 kills, 14 kills and hit .395 in Irvine Valley's four-set win over Cabrillo in the State Championship final match.
Her best match was the one at Fullerton in late October when she had 16 kills, 14 digs and hit an impressive .652.
She has also been a part of a successful sand volleyball program at Irvine Valley. The Lasers won the state title on the club level last season and captured the first ever California Community College Athletic Association State Championship this past spring, beating Golden West, Cabrillo and Grossmont for the title.
Pekich played a big part as part of IVC's No. 1 pairs team with Doran.
Doran and Pekich won the state pairs individual title the day after the team championship.
In another showing of the respect she has among her peers, Pekich is a two-sport, two-time captain at IVC.
IVC women's volleyball coach Tom Pestolesi put it best when he said, "Even in practice, I've never seen Kobi take false advantage of a situation. When she could easily call a ball out or deny a tip at the net, she always called things fairly. In an age where this generation doles out trust very slowly, Kobi has earned everyone's faith and trust."