Things were dire, as the El Camino College men’s volleyball team was two-points away from a regular-season finale loss. Santa Monica College led 13-11 in the fifth set.
Freshman outside hitter Chris Phanngam would not let the Warriors go down, and after a 10-second rally, the crowd was cheering as loud as they could while he went up to attack the ball.
Phanngam pulls his arm for a full swing, but just as he hits the ball he removes all power and lightly tips the ball over the block.
After a net violation for the Corsairs, the set was tied 13-13, but the visitors were not going to let the Warriors come back and win.
Looking like the No. 2 team coming out of the Western State Conference, the Corsairs pushed, but could not break the Warriors and were tied at 15 apiece.
But the home team was unable to clinch the win heading into the postseason and fell in five sets against conference rival Santa Monica College on Wednesday in a 3-2 (19-25, 25-19, 17-25, 26-24, 15-17) thriller.
“You can’t miss four serves in game five and expect to win,” EC coach Dick Blount said. “Ever. We had (three sophomores and a freshman) miss serves, so it’s just mental toughness, we need that and we didn’t have it.”
The Warriors will head into the playoffs as the No. 3 seed in the Western State Conference and will have to defeat Golden West College (No. 2 seed of the Pacific Coast Conference) and Long Beach City College (No. 1 seed of the WSC) in order to make it to the state championship rounds at L.A. Pierce College.
“It doesn’t matter the order (we play them),” Blount said. “We have to get better (if we want to win).”
Despite the loss, freshman libero Eric Veliz thinks that the team was able to compete, considering the first time the team’s met, the Corsairs blew apart the Warriors in a three-set sweep.
“We cleaned up a lot,” he said. “The difference was the unforced errors on our side, the little things like missed serves.”
Heading into the playoffs, sophomore outside hitter/middle blocker Josh Riblett said the loss was fun and hard, but it shows that they can compete (against better teams).
“We work on (errors) every day at practice for like an hour,” he said. “We hate it, it’s annoying, but we have to apply what we (practice).”