Irvine Valley’s women’s volleyball team was handed its first loss of the season Friday night.
In a much anticipated Orange Empire Conference opener between two of the top teams in the state, Golden West, ranked No. 11 upended the No. 7 Lasers, 25-23, 25-18, 19-25, 25-19, at Irvine Valley.
The win improved Golden West’s record to 7-2 overall, while Irvine Valley fell to 6-1.
Golden West was paced by sophomores Bethanee Boggs and Alicia Utke, who finished with 15 and 14 kills, respectively.
Irvine Valley got 15 kills from sophomore Allison Cook (the seventh straight match she has led the team in kills this season) and 12 kills from sophomore Avae Masaniai, who hit an impressive .522 on the night.
Cook added 15 digs, while Masaniai had six block assists. IVC freshman Becky Moodie recorded a career-high 31 digs. She had 15 digs alone in the first set. And freshman Danielle Boyette finished with 40 assists.
Golden West jumped out to a big lead in the opening set, Irvine Valley rallied to get within a point at 23-22 and 24-23, but the Rustlers closed out the set on a kill by Kami Dickerson.
Golden West broke open a close second game midway through. The set was tied at 8-8 after two straight aces by IVC sophomore Alex Goodman. But Golden West then won eight of the next 10 points to go ahead, 16-10.
Ahead, 16-13, Golden West went on another run, scoring eight of the next nine points. Back-to-back aces by Utke put Golden West ahead, 24-14.
Irvine Valley won four points in a row, getting two kills from Masaniai to pull within 24-18, but a kill off the block by Alyssa Hubbard ended the set for the Rustlers.
IVC picked things up in the third set and raced out to a 7-1 lead behind two aces and a kill by Cook. Golden West closed to within 13-10, but IVC ran off five straight points, capped by a kill by Cook and a hitting error by the Rustlers to go up, 18-10.
Golden West didn’t get closer than five points the rest of the set and that came late. A serve into the net by the Rustlers gave Irvine Valley the set.
Both teams were on in the fourth set, but Golden West just had a little too much for Irvine Valley in the end. It was tied, 7-7, when Golden West went on a 7-2-point run to take control. Saelina Dunn had three aces for the Rustlers during that stretch. A kill by Boggs gave Golden West a 14-9 lead.
IVC got within 15-13 on a kill by freshman Haley Whyte. But the two teams sided out for much of the rest of the set.
Irvine Valley closed to within 21-19 after a kill by Whyte and then a tip winner by Masania, but the Lasers didn’t score another point. A net violation by the Lasers, an ace by Talia DeFalco and then a kill by Utke set up match point. And Utke’s block ended the contest.
“We just have to keep working hard and keep improving,” IVC Coach Tom Pestolesi said. “There is still a lot more volleyball to play. We did a lot of good things in the match, I just think Golden West was a little better than we were tonight.”
IVC plays again next Wednesday, traveling to Santa Ana and then is home again next Friday against Cypress.