For a split second, packed Hart Gymnasium was dead silent.
Even the rowdy band of Lasers athletes and alumni, who spent Friday’s match heckling cross town rival Orange Coast College, was silenced, speaking only through the index fingers each held up as outside hitter Chelsea Pavlik launched the match point serve.
The moment of silence was broken with the smack of the ball landing in the Pirate’s right corner.
To the ecstatic Lasers, that was the sweet sound of sealing the 3-1 comeback victory over OCC to advance to a program record 14-0 (7-0) and remain atop the Orange Empire Conference standings.
To the two-time defending state champion Pirates, that was the echoing announcement that their No. 1 ranking in the state-wide coaches poll (released Oct. 12) was in serious jeopardy of being overtaken by the No. 2 Lasers.
“We really tried to focus like this was just another game,” said sophomore Brooke Bryant. “We just had to play IVC volleyball. We knew we could do it.”
The cheers came from the other side of the court early on, however. The Pirates were quick to open fire, edging out the Lasers, 30-25, to drop them into a 1-0 hole for only the second time this season.
OCC kept it close going into the second game, but a Lasers surge took the hosting team’s 14-12 lead into a 22-14 advantage. The Pirates would get no closer than 23-17.
Freshman outside hitter’s Camryn Torromeo’s ace was the final push, igniting a 5-0 run that swung the Lasers to the 30-18 win and into a 1-1 tied match.
“We were more anxious than nervous,” said Torromeo, who finished with five kills, 13 digs and school-record eight aces. “We were just excited to play.”
IVC jumped into a double-digit lead early in game three with one of Pavlik’s tied-for-season-high 25 kills on the night. Retaining control, they carried the 17-7 advantage to an easy 30-17 win.
Pavlik’s kill total, which also tied for forth most in school history, was complimented by 10 digs and four aces.
“Offensively I thought we were good,” said head coach Tom Pestolesi. “Chelsea is our bomber and had a number of big kills and I thought everyone else was really efficient tonight. We got contributions from a lot of people.”
IVC’s hot hand along with the Pirates’ fight to stay alive opened game four with a point-by-point battle. The 13-13 game was broken open with a 5-0 run sparked by back-to-back aces by Pavlik. From there, the Lasers denied OCC a clear look at a comeback and never allowed the visitors to get within two.
“We’re going to scratch, claw and fight for every point and make the other team earn it,” said assistant coach Jay Hosack. “We play with a lot of heart.”
Mari Guadagnini finished with 14 kills, Jessica Flood had 11, and freshman Katie Pascoe tapped in eight. Kelly Keating had four aces and 55 assists on the night.
The loss drops the Pirates to 11-3 (5-2).
After a home match against Santa Ana College (4-8, 1-6) on Wednesday to open the second round of conference action, the Lasers will face another OEC heavyweight when they travel to Golden West College (12-3, 5-2) on Friday.
The Rustlers, who swept OCC earlier this season, narrowly fell to IVC in a five-game match the first time the teams met in the first round of conference play. The matches are a 6 p.m. and 7 p.m., respectively.
“We never expected 14-0. I would be happy with 10-4 right now,” Pestolesi said. “But the kids have worked really hard and they have believed in themselves and each other.”
IVC’s outside hitter Chelsea Pavlik sets her sights on the next of her 25 kills in Friday’s match in Hart Gymnasium