FULLERTON -- The Orange Coast College men's volleyball team took care of its business on Thursday night, defeating rival Irvine Valley College in four sets, 25-19, 21-25, 25-16, 25-20, in the second semifinal match of the California Community College Athletic Association State Men's Volleyball Championships, hosted by Fullerton College.
With the win, the second-seeded Pirates (20-2) will take on fourth-seeded L.A. Pierce College (13-6) for the state title on Saturday night at Fullerton College, beginning at 7 p.m. The Brahmas pulled up a three-set upset win over previously unbeaten Long Beach City College (25-22, 25-20, 25-19).
Kyle McCauley led the way with 21 kills and eight digs, while Bradley Hankus slammed down 11 kills and Wyatt Henson and Clark Steele chipped in nine kills each. Colby Elder dished out 41 assists, while on defense, Braden Neumann came up with a team-best 10 digs.
For the Lasers (16-6), who dropped all three matches to the Pirates this season, Patrick Furlong led the offense with 13 kills and 10 digs, while Matt August added 12 kills.
A key run in the opening set came with the scored tied at 15, while some strong serves by Neumann and several IVC hitting errors sparked a 6-0 run, putting OCC ahead for good. Kills by McCauley, Will Donald and Zane Moothart along with three unforced hitting errors sparked the rally and helped give the Pirates a 1-0 lead in the match.
IVC, a team that used emotion to its advantage, came out strong in the second set and grabbed the early lead. Coast hung tough and both teams stayed close to each other throughout until a mini 3-0 run broke an 18-18 tie and gave the Lasers just enough breathing room to take the set and even the match at a set apiece.
That momentum didn't last long for the Lasers as OCC jumped out to a 6-1 lead in the third set with two kills by McCauley and a pair of solo kills by Donald and Elder sparking the strong start.
From there, OCC would not let up on the pressure and the lead grew to as many as 10 at 23-13 before the Pirates cruised to a third-set win and a 2-1 lead in the match.
In the fourth set, the Lasers used one final strong push to force a fifth set with a 13-12 lead, but the Pirates would not be denied, ripping off an 8-2 run to grab the lead away from IVC and it was a lead the Pirates would not relinquish the rest of the night.
Finally, on match point, an August kill attempt was blocked by Donald to send the Pirates to the state finals, where they will face a Brahmas team NOT to be taken lightly.
After starting the season 4-6, Pierce has won nine straight, including impressive straight-set playoff wins over Fullerton College and top-seeded LBCC. This year, OCC swept LAPC, 25-17, 25-16, 25-17 back on Feb. 7 inside the Peterson Gym.
In the win over the Vikings (20-1), the Brahmas were led by Morgan Wadlow, who had 10 kills, while Maximilian Petuhov added seven kills. As a team, LAPC ripped 40 kills on 72 attempts with only nine errors (.431 hitting percentage), while the Vikings struggled with just 28 kills and 20 errors on 81 attempts (.099 hitting percentage).
Cole Shea, who had nine kills in Thursday's win, leads the Brahmas with 209 kills, while Wadlow is close behind with 181 kills and Jake Kessler has notched 106 kills in just 14 matches this year.
OCC, the defending state champion, is looking for its eighth state championship (1987, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1994, 2014, 2017) and third under head coach Travis Turner.