The Irvine Valley women’s volleyball team almost pulled off its best win of the season Friday night.
The Lasers pushed Orange Empire Conference leading Golden West to the brink, but came up a little short in a five-set loss on Dig Pink night at Irvine Valley.
Golden West, ranked sixth in the state, pulled out the win, 25-20, 23-25, 15-25, 25-23, 16-14.
"We were right there and so close," IVC Coach Tom Pestolesi said of knocking off the Rustlers. "It was just a couple of plays here and there. But I'm still really proud of how hard the girls fought. We've been playing really good volleyball for a bout three weeks now. We just have to keep it up."
The Rustlers improved their record to 13-3 overall and 9-0 in conference. Irvine Valley, ranked 13th in the state, slipped to 10-4 overall and 6-3 in conference.
All proceeds from the evening, including admission and raffle drawings went toward the Side-out.org Dig Pink Volleyball Breast Cancer Awareness campaign. Nearly 400 fans showed up to watch a back and forth, action packed match that went down to the wire.
Golden West led from start to finish in the first set.
Irvine Valley jumped out to a big lead in the second set, going up, 6-1, on a kill by freshman opposite Nicole Rosenkilde, an ace by sophomore libero Sarah Mendoza and a combo block by sophomore outside hitter Annie Kim and sophomore middle blocker Emily Mount.
But Golden West caught IVC at 9-9 and the set was tied seven other times the rest of the way. Tied, 18-18, Golden West scored three points in a row on a block by Bethanee Boggs and Klaire Blasco and an ace by Alicia Utke to go up, 21-18.
Irvine Valley looked like it might go down two sets when the Rustlers went ahead, 23-21, on a kill by Golden West’s Alyssa Hubbard. But the Lasers came back with a kill by Rosenkilde and then when Golden West hit out the set was tied 23-23. Two more hitting errors by the Rustlers gave the Lasers the set.
Irvine Valley carried that momentum into the third set. The Lasers were down, 5-2, early, but then scored eight points in a row. A block by freshman setter Sofia Furlong and Mount gave IVC a 10-5 advantage.
Irvine Valley was dominant the rest of the set. Ahead, 16-10, the Lasers went on a 6-2 run to put the set away. Sophomore middle blocker Hannah Unruh had two kills and Mount had a kill and a block as part of the run.
IVC won the set, 25-15, after back-to-back Golden West hitting errors. Golden West won a very tight fourth set to get back into the match. The set was tied at 9-9, 10-10, 11-11, 13-13, 14-14, 16-16, 17-17, 18-18, 19-19, 20-20, 21-21 and 23-23.
Golden West held a 23-21 lead, but IVC’s Mount
fired a kill and then freshman outside hitter Allison Cook tied it at 23 with a kill.
But Golden West earned the set on consecutive kills by Utke.
The fifth set was just as close. Golden West raced out to a 3-0 lead on a block by Ashley Botana only to see Irvine Valley rally and go up, 8-5, on a kill by Cook. IVC took its largest lead of the set at 10-6.
But Golden West ended up scoring 10 of the final 14 points. IVC never had a match point in the final set.
Irvine Valley’s last lead in the set came at 12-11 on a bock by Rosenkilde and Unruh. Golden West scored three points in a row to take a 14-12 lead.
A kill by Kim and then a Golden West hitting error pulled IVC even at 14-14. But Golden West pulled out the win on a kill by Utke and then an ace on match point by libero Kat Castillo.
Castillo finished with 30 digs and three aces on the night. And Hubbard and Utke each had 14 kills for the Rustlers.
Irvine Valley was paced by Kim and Cook, who each finished with 16 kills. Unruh had eight kills and five blocks, Mount added seven kills and six blocks, Mendoza ended with 18 digs and Furlong had 50 assists.
IVC plays its next two matches on the road. The Lasers are at Orange Coast on Wednesday at 7 p.m. and then at Fullerton on Friday at 6 p.m. OCC is ranked ninth in the state and Fullerton is No. 12.