Irvine Valley women's volleyball and sand volleyball coach Tom Pestolesi was recently selected as the 2014-2015 Orange Empire Conference female sport Coach of the Year in voting by the conference's athletic administrators.
Saddleback's Andy Ground, who won a state title with the Gaucho men's basketball team, was picked as the conference male sport coach of the year.
Pestolesi had a 2014-15 school year to remember, helping guide Laser women's indoor and sand volleyball teams to state titles. Irvine Valley's women's volleyball team won its first ever state title last fall, rolling through the competition.
A year after finishing third at the CCCAA State Championship, the Lasers won it all last December at Cabrillo College. The Lasers defeated defending state champion Cabrillo, the top team from Northern California, in the title match, 3-1 (25-15, 25-19, 22-25, 25-18). The win capped a perfect 27-0 season for the Lasers and Pestolesi. Three teams (Irvine Valley, Grossmont and Cabrillo) went into the state event undefeated, but only the Lasers ended that way.
IVC also won the Orange Empire Conference title behind the leadership of conference player of the year Annie Mitchem and all-conference players Marisa Doran, Hailey Jones, Kobi Pekich and Hannah Matt. Overall, Irvine Valley recorded three-set sweeps in 21 of its 27 matches and dropped just seven sets all season. There were staggering numbers and stats all around. The Lasers hit .344 as a team and averaged 12.38 assists, 2.12 blocks, 1.85 aces and 13.97 digs per set as a team.
Mitchem led the state in hitting percentage at .517 and was among the leaders in kills and blocks and Jones was tops in the state in assists per set at 11.43.
Pestolesi was named Orange Empire Conference coach of the year for volleyball for the second year in a row. The Lasers won back-to-back conference titles, going 20-0 in conference in the process.
Pestolesi was also picked as the region coach of the year in both 2013 and 2014.
Another special part of the year took place early in the playoffs when Pestolesi was honored for winning his 250th match with the program.
Not only dominant on the court, but the Lasers under Pestolesi were named as a American Volleyball Coaches Association scholar athlete team. They were one of 24 teams that earned the honor nationwide and just one of three in California.
In the spring, Irvine Valley and Pestolesi claimed another title - this one for sand volleyball.
The Lasers swept the team and individual competitions at the inaugural CCCAA State Championships at Irvine Valley in early May.
Irvine Valley won the team state title on Friday and then had all three of their teams in the individual competition claim state titles on Saturday. Doran and Pekich won the No. 1 pairs title, Mitchem and freshman Emily Reinking took the No. 2 pairs championship and sophomore Samantha Holdredge and freshman Hailee Earnest captured the No. 3 pairs title.
The Lasers finished the season with a record of 15-5 overall with their only losses coming to NCAA Division 1 universities. IVC didn't lose to a community college program all season and 11 of its wins were by the score of 5-0.
The sand team is also being nominated for the state scholar-team award, completing their season with a 3.46 GPA.
Under Pestolesi's tutelage, seven sophomores from the indoor and sand teams are now competing at the four-year level with four of them at Division 1.
"Coach Pestolesi is widely known for his personal and professional integrity and sportsmanship," said Irvine Valley Dean and Athletic Director Keith Shackleford. "Those who have seen him coach can also attest to his ability to get the most rom his players without resorting to negativity. His demeanor, language and leadership transcend a sense of mere management, and his players reap the benefits of his coaching network that is a direct by-product of his professional conduct."