Irvine Valley’s men’s volleyball team is back in the playoffs.
IVC clinched a berth in the California Community College Athletic Association postseason with an emphatic 28-26, 25-22, 25-19 sweep of Golden West at home on Friday night.
The Lasers missed playoff action last season after having a run of eight straight years in the postseason.
Irvine Valley improved its record to 11-6 overall and 7-3 in conference.
The top three teams from the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference make the playoffs and Golden West was chasing Irvine Valley for third.
But IVC secured at least third with the win. Golden West now sits at 5-6 in conference – three matches behind IVC in the loss column. Irvine Valley has two matches to play in the regular season – at Orange Coast next Wednesday and at San Diego City next Friday.
The Lasers won two very close sets and then ran away with the third set on Friday against Golden West, which beat IVC in five sets the first two times the teams played.
The first set was tied most of the way, including at 21, 22, 23, 24, 25 and 26 all.
Golden West had set points at 24-23, 25-24 and 26-25.
A kill by freshman outside hitter Cole Murray tied the set at 26-26. Then a block by freshman outside hitter AJ Hammer and sophomore middle blocker Taylor Kempkes gave IVC a 27-26 lead.
The Lasers ended the set on the next point, getting a block by Hammer.
The second set was also tight. IVC led, 14-10, after a kill by Hammer. But Golden West reeled off four points in a row to tie it at 14-14.
Golden West held a 19-17 lead after a kill by Lalau Togagae. It forced an IVC timeout. And the Lasers answered.
Irvine Valley scored four points in a row, getting a kill by freshman middle blocker Marcus Dillon, an ace by sophomore libero Danny Roman and a kill by freshman middle blocker Kevin Vaz.
Golden West got two points back to make it 21-21, but Irvine Valley scored four of the last five points in the set.
Murray set up set point at 24-22 with a kill and then a Golden West hitting error finished the set.
The third set was tied at 11-11. But then Irvine Valley got on a roll. The Lasers scored eight of the next nine points to take a commanding 19-13 lead.
Golden West didn’t get closer than four points the rest of the way.
A kill by Hammer moved Irvine Valley to match point at 24-19 and an ace by freshman opposite Davis Cannon gave the Lasers one of their biggest wins of the season.
Hammer finished with 17 kills to lead the way. He hit .762 on the night with just one error in 21 attempts. Murray had 14 kills and hit .545. Dillon finished with 10 kills and hit .615 and Cannon chipped in seven kills and three aces and freshman setter Steven Duhoux had 35 assists for IVC.