Star outside hitter Brandon Directo goes out on top   

Tags: Athletics, Volleyball-Men

Brandon DirectoIt was fitting that Irvine Valley sophomore men's volleyball player Brandon Directo finished things off last Friday night at Orange Coast.

Directo's cross-court kill on match point in the fifth-game against Grossmont gave IVC the 2011 California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA) State Championship, the program's fourth overall and third in the last five years.
Directo was an emotional leader on and off the court for the Lasers in 2011.
"He always plays hard and he plays with an energy that you can't teach," IVC co-head coach Tom Pestolesi said.
But Directo admittedly had a lot to prove.
He started his career at IVC in 2009 and was a hit from the start. He was named co-player of the year in the Pacific Coast Conference after averaging 4.58 kills per game.
But after winning state titles the previous two years, IVC didn't make the state tournament in 2009.
The Lasers were knocked off by Santa Monica at home with a trip to state on the line.
Irvine Valley was back at the state tournament last year, but Directo wasn't on the court. He red-shirted in 2010 to focus on his studies.
This season was about redemption.
And Directo delivered.
He led Irvine Valley in kills in 14 of 21 matches, including recording 20 or more kills in three matches this season. Directo ranked fourth in the state during the regular season at 3.67 kills per game, 12th in digs at 2.16 per game and 14th in hitting percentage at .318.
His 277 kills led Irvine Valley and his 154 digs were second-best on the squad.
Showing his all-around game, he was also second in aces and fifth in blocks for the Lasers.
"And all that from an outside hitter that is just 5-9," Pestolesi said. "Honestly, he is probably the most athletic player we've ever had here. He has been measured with a 46-inch vertical jump and I know he has jumped even higher than that during matches."
Directo had 17 kills in the team's opening round playoff sweep over Santa Barbara City. After the match, Santa Barbara coach Armen Zakarian was so impressed with Directo that he said "you don’t stop a player like No. 4 (Directo), you just try to stop the guys around him."
Directo didn’t have the best state semifinal match, finishing with just eight kills and hitting .080. But Irvine Valley got solid matches from starters Corey Brophy, Mark Metrakos, Adam Johnson and Kevin Fiske in a four-game win over Orange Coast.
Directo turned it up a notch in the championship final, though, as Irvine Valley triumphed to a 25-17, 25-17, 23-25, 18-25, 15-13 victory over Grossmont.
He finished with 17 kills, eight digs and five blocks in that title match to be named the tournament's most valuable player.
"It was every single one of us trusting each other," Directo said. "The past couple of weeks we have come together like no other team has. I felt bonded with these guys so much. I trusted them and turned to them and I knew what they were thinking when they looked at me. They wanted this championship. I keep saying to these guys that 'we are family, we are family.' Nobody can take this away from us. We are family."
That family celebrated, hugged and snapped picture after picture for nearly an hour after the win in Orange Coast's gym last Friday night.
"Everything was going through my head," said a spent and emotional Directo after the match. "I was thinking of how my family and my friends and my teammates and coaches supported me the whole time I have been at IVC. It has been a fun process and a great experience in my life, one of the best experiences of my life.
"Playing volleyball for Ki (Yi) and Pesto (Tom Pestolesi) and Miguel (Monterola) has been fun. They are great coaches and I have had a lot of great teammates. And I couldn't have done it without them. They helped me through everything."
Directo will get his AA degree from IVC in May and move on to a four-year school to continue his education.
"I am really happy that Brandon will be moving on to a place like Cal State Fullerton or Long Beach State and work toward his degree," Pestolesi said. "And I am glad that he got to end his volleyball career at IVC the right way."

 
Posted by  Nathan Quach  on  4/26/2011
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