Women's Volleyball

Women's volleyball team is off to the state tourney once again

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

Irvine Valley's women's volleyball team is off to the California Community College Athletic Association State Championship for the third season in a row.

The Lasers, who already completed their second undefeated regular season in the last three years, kept rolling in the regional playoffs.

IVC swept San Diego City in the opening round on Tuesday and then took care of Orange Coast for the third time this season on Saturday night, beating the Pirates, 25-18, 25-16, 25-12, at home, in a second round SoCal Regional Playoff match.

Undefeated and top-ranked Irvine Valley improved to 25-0 overall.

The sweep Saturday, was Irvine Valley's 21st of the season.

The Lasers have won 12 straight sets heading into the state event. And they have dropped just four sets all season long (75-4).

The first set with Orange Coast was the closest on Saturday. Orange Coast played tough and pulled within 19-18 when Irvine Valley couldn't get the ball over on three.

But back-to-back kills by sophomore All-American middle blocker Kristin Austin and sophomore outside hitter Lea Kruse put the Lasers up, 21-18, and they cruised from there.

A block by sophomore middle blocker Alma Entesari and freshman opposite Jasmine Langle combined for a block to give IVC a 23-18 lead and force an Orange Coast timeout.

After two straight hitting errors by the Pirates, IVC captured the first set and was on its way.

The second set was tied at 14, but Irvine Valley scored six straight points.

Sophomore outside hitter Gabriela Griego capped the run with a kill push IVC ahead, 20-14.

Irvine Valley lost just two points the rest of the set. An ace by sophomore libero Anna Unke gave IVC a 23-16 lead, and a kill by Griego put the Lasers at set point.

Austin ended the set with a big kill in the middle.

The third set was all Lasers.

It was tied at 4, but then Irvine Valley scored six of the next seven points. A kill by Kruse gave IVC a 10-5 advantage.

An ace by freshman defensive specialist Lexie Pereira put the Lasers up, 19-10, and a kill on a slide play by Austin and a kill on an overpass by Austin made it 21-10.

It was just a matter of points after that.

Sophomore outside hitter Alaina Gendale got Irvine Valley within three points at 22-11 with a kill.

A kill by Kruse three points later gave Irvine Valley match point at 24-12 and Entesari and sophomore setter Truth Hafey ended things with a block.

"What a great group of kids, players," Irvine Valley coach Tom Pestolesi said. "They deserve this. They were ready and focused tonight. It was one of our best performances of the year."

Irvine Valley had just two hitting errors in the second set and only one in the third on the way to the win.

The Lasers led the state in hitting percentage at .333 heading into the match.

"That has really been one of our strengths all season," Pestolesi said. "They have been so good at managing their swings. We might not be the biggest team, but we have a deep group and so many good all-around volleyball players."

Three players had double figure kills for IVC on the night.

Kruse, who was named the co-MVP of the Orange Empire Conference for the second straight year, ended with 12 kills, 13 digs and two blocks.

Griego and Austin each finished with 11 kills. And Gendale contributed six kills and 11 digs for the Lasers.

Unke added 10 digs, Pereira had six digs and Hafey had another solid night with 37 assists, seven digs and four aces.

The Lasers move on to the 2019 CCCAA Women's Volleyball Championship at Southwestern College in Chula Vista, beginning next Friday.

Brackets will be posted after final results from the NoCal and SoCal Regionals finish up.

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