No. 7 Men’s volleyball team can’t overcome ‘nerves’ in season-opening loss against No. 2 Orange Coast College

The kinks in the armor of the El Camino men’s volleyball team are still ripe for teams to take advantage of.

After a lackluster start and end to the 2016 season, the Warriors were hoping to ride the backpack of 2015 standout Cesar Medina, who did not play in 2016.

The No. 7-ranked El Camino Warriors (0-1) took a crushing four-set loss to the No. 2 ranked Orange Coast College Pirates (1-0) on Wednesday, and Medina was nowhere to be found in the first two sets.

Off-court issues plagued Medina in 2015, which forced him to be benched at the beginning of several games during the team’s second place finish in the State Tournament.

“He just hadn’t been able to come to practice,” EC coach Dick Blount said. “(I have) to send messages.”

Despite being considered the best player, or even the “most exciting” player as some audience members “ooed” and “ahhed” at his performance, Blount has always been adamant about making sure players are at practice.

In 2015, Medina and then-sophomore Bobby Romano were both benched for failing to attend practice before several matches.

This eventually led to the standout play from Josh Riblett, who took over for Romano that season.

“(I just need) to show up to practice,” Medina said. “Just go to work and improve my game. I think I didn’t pull my team enough (tonight). I wasn’t really being the leader and I should be, especially because I’m a returner.”

Medina had a great first game back, offering to the team what it had been missing throughout the entirety of the 2016 season.

A go to hitter, the type of player that shows his team, the opponents and the crowd, “hey guys, I’m putting you in my backpack and I’m going to carry us to victory” type of guy.

During the 2015 season, the Warriors featured an unstoppable power in Casey Wood and the rising star Cesar Medina.

“It’s a lot easier to have someone like (Cesar), ” sophomore setter Pedro Campos said. “Last year, we had a lot of hitters but when it came down to the last few points and we needed to close games out, we didn’t have anyone.”

The Warriors will take on Golden West College on Wednesday, Feb. 8 and then Cal Lutheran University on Friday, Feb. 10.

“Next week’s going to be tough,” Blount said. “I made sure that it was.”