FULLERTON -- The Orange Coast College women's volleyball team picked up a HUGE road win on Wednesday night, topping the Fullerton College Hornets in five hard-fought sets in a crucial Orange Empire Conference matchup between two of the top three teams in the region.
After falling to the Hornets in three sets in the first round of OEC play, the Pirates (15-4, 8-3) returned the favor on the Hornets (12-8, 7-3) with a 15-25, 25-15, 18-25, 25-21, 15-11 win to move ahead of FC atop the OEC standings.
Mehina Kenoi led the Pirates' offense with 14 kills to go along with 15 digs and four aces. Lucrezia Lualdi added 10 kills and 13 digs, while Bailey Coffin (11 digs) and Lily Johnson (five blocks) each added six kills.
For the Hornets (Saylor Frew ripped 19 kills and added 12 digs, while Mackenzie Kjenstad added 12 kills. Chloe Johnson came through with 40 assists, while Priscilla Gutierrez notched 25 digs.
After both teams traded easy wins in the first two sets, the Hornets took the third set and was tied with the Pirates at 17 late in set No. 4. But a long serve by the Hornets, and a kill by Kenoi put Coast, 19-17, forcing FC into a timeout. Fullerton would score on the next play, but back-to-back kills by Lualdi put OCC up, 21-18, forcing a second timeout by the Hornets.
Fullerton fought back with a pair of points to cut the deficit to 21-20, but a costly serving error by the Hornets pushed the lead back up to two at 22-20. Fullerton would get the next point to make it, 22-21, but the Pirates used kills by Lualdi and Kenoi and a hitting error by the Hornets to even the match at two sets apiece.
In the fifth set, OCC continued its strong play and forced Fullerton into a timeout as the Pirates led, 10-6. Coast did not let up and forced a second timeout at 12-7, needed just three more points to win the match.
Fullerton picked up a pair of quick points to make it 12-9, but the Pirates managed to trade points with the Hornets the rest of the way to pick up a big road win against a quality opponent. OCC has played three five-set matches in OEC play -- all on the road -- and have won all three of them.
The Pirates will return to the Peterson Gym on Friday night against Santa Ana, beginning at 6 p.m.