No. 7 men’s volleyball team prepares for first round of playoffs at No. 2 Irvine Valley College
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It’s playoff time for the men’s volleyball team and the only thing the No. 7 ranked Warriors want is to run the table for a chance to win the California Community College Athletic Association’s State Championship match.
But first on the schedule is a trip to the No. 2 Irvine Valley College Lasers on Friday at 6 p.m.
IVC has been ranked in the top three all season long and only just fell out of the No. 1 spot two weeks ago following a loss to the current king of California: Orange Coast College.
The Warriors visited the Lasers on Wednesday, March 15 only to be outdone in a four-set loss.
“We’re not thinking this is going to be our last match,” Chris Phanngam, co-captain of the Warriors and sophomore outside hitter, said. “We’re thinking that there’s three more games (to the state championship).”
El Camino will need to find a way to stop hitting percentage state-leader Matt August, who can play in the middle or on the right side and shine.
But August will be backed by some incredible crew of his own in Brennan To, Patrick Furlong and Ruben Lopez.
All four of these Lasers rank in the Top 25 of the state for kills: No. 10 August (191), No. 18 To (146), No. 20 Furlong (141) and No. 23 Lopez (132).
EC sophomore outside hitter Cesar Medina landed at No. 6 in the state with 207 kills and sophomore opposite hitter PJ Tulikihihifo was short of the Top 25 at No. 29 with his 115 kills.
EC was ranked No. 4 to end the season on the power rankings, but despite being the No. 2 team in conference, they fell to No. 7 in the state playoffs due to the lackluster record of 10-7 overall.
“We’re good when we get going,” EC coach Dick Blount said. “We just haven’t been able to do it at times. It’s a mental thing.”
The winner of the Western State Conference has won the State Championship the last years (LBCC in 2016 and Santa Monica in 2015), the Orange Empire’s OCC won it all in 2014.
EC has been in dire straits this season and has lacked many things necessary to become a real top contending team.
“It’s consistency man,” Medina said. “We weren’t consistent and it’s an issue we’ve had all year, and we need some energy on the court (to win).”