After four consecutive losses to Los Angeles’s Pierce (24-30, 30-27, 30-25, 30-27) and three to Long Beach City (30- 26, 30-24, 30-20), Irvine Valley beat Santa Monica last Wednesday night 3-1, (30-24, 30-22, 16-30, 30-26), improving their overall record to 3-2.
The Lasers dominated from the start, winning the first two sets and putting pressure on the 2008 Western State Conference champion Corsairs. After allowing the home team back into the game after the third set, Irvine Valley won the fourth set for their second road victory of the season.
Freshman outside hitter Brandon Directo (University High) led the Lasers with 24 kills, while freshman middle-blocker Corey Brophy (Mission Viejo) collected 11 kills, seven blocks and five digs. Freshman Garrett Dvoracek (Village Christian) added nine kills and 10 digs against the Corsairs, and fellow freshman James Alexander (Arcadia) finished with 51 assists in the four-set victory.
IVC returned home on Friday night, only to lose to undefeated Moorpark (7-0 overall) in a heated, five-game match. The Raiders had dominated their early competition this year, sweeping all but one match on their way to an unblemished record. Irvine Valley did not roll over easily, matching the visitor’s intensity and nearly pulling the upset.
Irvine Valley, the 2008 California Community College Athletic Association’s Men’s Volleyball Champions, have been led so far this season by a wealth of freshman talent. Before Friday’s home slugfest with the Raiders, IVC had several freshman noted in the Pacific Coast Conference stat leaderboard, including Directo, who was second in kills per game (3.60) and Galliano, who was second in hitting percentage (.381).
Freshman Nick Castello (Assets School, HI) led the PCC with 3.25 digs per game, freshman Billy Woodall (Irvine) was tied for second with 0.88 blocks per game, and Brophy was atop the PCC leaderboard with aces per contest (0.67).
The Lasers begin Pacific Coast Conference play Friday at 6 p.m. as they host rival Golden West. Irvine Valley swept the Rustlers in two contests last year, including a three-game sweep which ultimately led to the Lasers’ PCC title.