Pirates host Ventura in Regional playoff opener

Pirates host Ventura in Regional playoff opener

COSTA MESA -- The Orange Coast College women's volleyball team earned a No. 8 seed in this year's Southern California Regional playoffs and will host No. 9 Ventura on Tuesday night, beginning at 6 p.m. inside the Peterson Gym.

The OCC Pirates (21-5) and the VC Pirates (17-4) will be meeting for the second time this season, but both teams will be much improved since playing back on Aug. 29 in the season opener (won by Coast, 25-18, 25-18, 25-20).

Following that season-opening win, OCC went on a winning tear to start the season a perfect 9-0 in nonconference play. A five-set loss to Cypress stopped that streak, but the Pirates responded with six more wins in a row before suffering their first losing "streak" of the season with losses to eventual champion Irvine Valley, El Camino and Cypress. OCC, third-place finishers in the always-tough Orange Empire Conference, enters Tuesday's matchup winners of six of its last seven matches, including a four-set win at Citrus College on Wednesday night.

Coast is led offensively by the 1-2 punch of freshmen outside hitters Hally Herder (242 kills) and Bailey Coffin (235 kills, 278 digs), with freshman middle blocker Lily Johnson (235 kills, 59 blocks) providing dynamic skills on both sides of the floor.

Distributing the offense for the Pirates comes from sophomore standout Camryn Kaina, who has 675 assists to go along with 47 kills and 204 digs.

On the defensive end, Coast enters Tuesday's match ranked fifth in the state in digs, led by sophomore libero Rylee Adair (513), who became the first player in Pirate women's volleyball history to eclipse the 1,000-dig mark for a two-year career. Look for Herder (172 digs and sophomore defensive specialist Mackenzie Bill (158 digs) to further anchor the OCC defense.

For the VC Pirates, champions of the Western State Conference's North Division, they are on a run of 12 wins over their past 13 matches after starting the season 5-3.

Freshman outside hitter Morgan Gallagher leads a trio of first-year VC hitters with 169 kills, while middle blocker Brooklyn Wallet (140 kills) and Shantalle Ruiz (121 kills) add depth to the Ventura offense.

Ventura is led by a pair of setters to distribute the offense in freshman Gabby Boado (337 assists) and Raphaella Rosales (333 assists).

Freshman libero Faith Mackle is the grinder on defense with 337 digs, followed by Rosales (143), Boado (126) and Kasie Spencer (114).

The winner of tonight's matchup will take on the winner of the Irvine Valley match on Saturday, Nov. 24. The top-seeded Lasers (18-1) will play the lowest remaining seeds from Saturday's play-in matches that feature No. 15 Mt. San Antonio, No. 16 Pasadena City, No. 17, Mt. San Antonio and No. 18 Santa Monica.