Irvine Valley’s women’s volleyball team recorded the second undefeated regular season in program history, but it sure wasn’t easy.
The Lasers, ranked second in the state, had to battle back from two sets down to beat No. 8 Golden West, 19-25, 23-25, 25-20, 25-22, 15-4, Wednesday on sophomore night at IVC.
Irvine Valley improved its record to 20-0 overall and 14-0 in conference. The Lasers had already clinched the program’s fourth conference title.
The last IVC team to go undefeated in the regular season was the 2007 squad led by all-state player Chelsea Pavlik that went 22-0.
Golden West, which finished in a tie for second place in conference with Cypress, saw its record fall to 16-4 overall and 10-4 in conference.
"I am just happy for the kids and the program," IVC Coach Tom Pestolesi said of the unbeaten year so far. "We just want to make sure we enjoy each day the rest of the season until the last ball drops for us whenever that is."
The Regional Playoff brackets will be announced this weekend and Irvine Valley should be the No. 1 seed in Southern California and will host a first-round match next Tuesday.
"We thought we would be pretty good at the start of the year and the girls have definitely proven that," Pestolesi said. "The kids have really made a commitment and bought into everything we want them to do. They’ve given their all."
Giving a bunch as usual on Wednesday were the likes of freshman middle blocker Annie Mitchem, sophomore opposite Alexis Radecki, freshman outside hitter Marisa Doran, sophomore libero Becky Moodie, freshman outside hitter Kobi Pekich, sophomore middle blocker Haley Whyte and freshman setter Hailey Jones.
Mitchem finished with 19 kills, hit .600 and added three blocks. Radecki chipped in 14 kills and hit .480.
"They were both just phenomenal for us tonight," Pestolesi said.
Doran added 14 kills and nine digs, Moodie had 25 digs, Pekich contributed nine kills and 16 digs, Whyte had three kills and four blocks, including two important ones early in the fourth set, and Jones ended with 53 assists, 13 digs and three aces.
The Lasers needed each and every one of those numbers to come away with the win.
Golden West took control of the first set with an 8-3 run to take a 20-15 lead. The Rustlers later reached set point with a kill by Jordyn Sanchez. Two points later a kill by Nikol Powers ended the first set.
The second set was back and forth most of the way. The match was tied at 23 when Golden West scored the final two points on back-to-back kills by Tyler Davis.
Irvine Valley never trailed in the third set, but it was close until the Lasers went on a 9-2 run to take a 19-11 lead. Radecki had three big kills during the streak.
Irvine Valley led, 20-12, before Golden West got back within 22-18 on a kill by Sanchez.
But the Lasers won three of the final five points to take the set, 25-20. Radecki closed the set out with a kill.
Early on in the fourth set, Golden West looked as if it was on its way to victory. The Rustlers scored the first five points of the set. But IVC battled back to 6-6. A block and then a kill by Mitchem tied it up.
Tied, 9-9, IVC scored the next two points on aces by Jones and never was behind again in the set. IVC took its largest leads at 20-14 and 22-16. Golden West kept fighting and rallied to within 24-22 on a lift call on Irvine Valley. But Radecki forced a fifth set with a kill.
Irvine Valley used its momentum on into the fifth set.
The Lasers scored the first five points. Mitchem had a kill, Mitchem and Pekich combined for a block, Pekich came through with a kill, Golden West hit into the net and sophomore libero Emily Daily served an ace to make it 5-0.
The Lasers led, 7-1, after a kill by Doran.
And ahead, 9-4, Irvine Valley scored the final five points of the match. Doran set up match point with a kill and then sophomore opposite Kiley Bowen ended the night with a kill.