While the Orange Coast College men's volleyball program has had a steady of stream of success on the court, an even prouder accomplishment for the Pirates has been their success OFF of the court. For four OCC standouts – Kyle McCauley, Aiden Wolf-Nielsen, Clark Steele and Braden Neumann – they are the next crop of Pirate greats who will be advancing their athletic and academic careers to the four-year level.
"This is what it's all about … getting kids into four-year schools and I couldn't be happier for these four guys," OCC head coach Travis Turner said. "These guys have put in the work with our program and they've worked equally hard in the classroom. Their hard work in both areas is being rewarded and I'm super excited to see these guys move on to the next level."
Wolf-Nielsen, a 6-foot-10 freshman middle blocker out of University High School, will finish up his first year at OCC before moving down the road to perennial MVB powerhouse UC Irvine. The Anteaters are currently ranked No. 3 in the nation and another former OCC Pirate – outsider J.B. Kam – will be a teammate of Wolf-Nielsen in 2020.
As a Pirate in 2019, Wolf-Nielsen has notched 59 kills on just 98 attempts with just 14 errors (.459 hitting percentage) to go along with 34 combined blocks.
"Aiden's size and his work ethic will make a potential All-American for the Anteaters," Turner said. "This kid has all of the potential in the world and I can't wait to see how he progresses at the next level."
McCauley, a 6-3 outside hitter out of Edison HS, will be playing volleyball at UC San Diego next year after a brilliant two-year career with the Pirates. As a freshman, McCauley led the state with 255 kills to go along with 127 digs and earned first-team, All-Orange Empire Conference honors for OCC in 2018. This year, he has notched 127 kills, 24 aces and 47 digs and is still OCC's go-to guy as the Pirates look to return to the top of mountain in 2019.
"Kyle is built for the next level," Turner said. "I look forward to seeing him continue to develop. He has the potential to be one of the best and the sky is the limit for him."
Steele and Neumann will remain teammates after their time at Coast is finished as the twosome will head to North Dakota and attend college at the University of Jamestown, a first-year program that will kick off the sport at the college for the 2019-2020 season.
Neumann, a 6-0 libero from Calvary Chapel HS, has been the anchor of the OCC defense for the past two seasons. After notching 77 digs as a freshman last year, he has equaled that number with 77 more this year to go along with 60 career assists.
Steele, a 6-6 OH/Opp out of El Toro HS, has been a steady weapon for the Pirates for the past two seasons, ripping a career 170 kills to go along with 61 digs and 71 total blocks.
"Clark and Braden are going to have an outstanding and unique experience in North Dakota," Turner said. "Both will make an immediate impact at the NAIA level. It's really cool that they are taking on this challenge together."
This dynamic foursome has helped led the Pirates to a perfect 17-0 record and a state No. 1 ranking heading into Friday night's matchup with state's fourth-ranked Lasers.