Pirates upset by Ventura in Regional playoff opener

Pirates upset by Ventura in Regional playoff opener

COSTA MESA -- The 2018 season came to a sudden stop for the Orange Coast College women's volleyball team as the Pirates lost to visiting Ventura in five sets in the opening round of the Southern California Regional playoffs on Tuesday night inside the Peterson Gym.

Kelly Rodriguez had 15 kills, while Morgan Gallagher and Shantalle Ruiz each added 14 for the No. 9-seeded VC Pirates (18-4), who rallied for a 25-23, 16-25, 25-27, 28-26, 15-13 win over the eighth-seeded OCC Pirates (21-6). With the win, Ventura will take on top-seeded Irvine Valley on Saturday night at IVC, beginning at 6 p.m.

For Coast, Lily Johnson led the offense with 15 kills, while Camryn Kaina dished out 35 assists. OCC libero Rylee Adair set a school record with 45 digs in the match, breaking the previous best of 44, set by Sierra Lim (2016) and Carina Perez (2013).

In a match that took nearly two-and-a-half hours to complete, the tempo was etched for the night in the opening set as two teams battled back and forth to gain the upper hand. It appeared that Coast would jump ahead with a 22-20 lead, but Ventura responded with three kills and a wide OCC attempt to grab a 24-22 lead. 

A Kristi Black kill pulled Coast to within a point at 24-23, but a double-contact violation on the hosts gave Ventura the opening set.

OCC took advantage of numerous errant attempts by the VC Pirates and used three kills by Johnson and black to cruise to a 25-16 win in the second set to even the match up.

Ventura used a 7-1 run late in the third set to grab a 24-18 lead, only to see one of the better comebacks in recent history as the OCC Pirates ripped off six straight points to even the set at 24. Two kills by Johnson, a ace by Raigan Ramos, a block by Bailey Coffin and a wide Ventura attempt stunned everyone inside the gym as the set played on. Rodriguez put away her attempt for Ventura to put the guests back up, 25-24, but again, OCC would rally with a kill by Johnson, a block by Coffin and a long return by Ventura, putting OCC up 2-1 in the match.

In the fourth set, Coast held a 24-23 lead and was serving for the match, but a pair of long returns by the OCC Pirates put Ventura up, 25-24. Coast would fight off a pair of set-point opportunities before Ventura would finally even the match with a 28-26 win on a return into the net by the hosts.

Coast jumped out to a 6-2 lead in the fifth set, only to see Ventura regain its poise and rip of five points in a row to grab a 7-6 lead.

From there, both teams went back and forth as the set evened up at 13. Finally for Ventura, back-to-back kills by Rodriguez and Brooklyn Wallet ended the match and ended the season for Orange Coast, avenging a season-opening straight-set loss to OCC (25-18, 25-18, 25-20) back on Aug. 29.