Two numbers have never been so symbolic to Irvine Valley’s women’s volleyball program.
The Lasers’ 21-0 record which looms at the top of the state rankings tells the tail of excitement, perfection, talent and triumph. However, no dictionary is complete enough to sum up the numerals as accurately as the facial expressions of the undefeated team after a Pirate service error sealed their perfect season run Wednesday.
“We’re on a mission,” said assistant coach Ki Yi. “This is the icing on the cake right now.”
A better script couldn’t have been written for Irvine, which capped off its unbeaten streak with a 30-28, 30-24, 30-27 sweep in conference rival Orange Coast College’s gym on its opponent’s sophomore night.
“We called it hostile territory,” Yi said. “We knew the fans were going to be all over us… No one wants a team in their conference to go undefeated. We knew they were going to be after us hard.”
OCC defended its home turf with a vengeance to start the match, pounding out big hits and jumping on its opponents early to dig IVC into a 23-15 hole and forced the visitors into a timeout.
The Lasers came out of the huddle a different team. After battling back to within 26-22, they capitalized on Chelsea Pavilk’s kill power and a duo of aces by middle blocker Jessica Flood to pull out a 6-0 run. Pavlik knocked down two more kills to pick up the 30-28 win.
“They like to play a little bit,” said assistant coach Jay Hosack. “That kind of behoos us to being in a tighter match. That’s what so scrappy about us.”
Pavilk finished with 17 kills and nine digs. The sophomore, who led her team in kills all 21 matches this season, increased her record for most kills in a season to 412.
Flood added eight kills and three aces.
The momentum from game one flowed into the early part of game two as powerful IVC hits and errant OCC returns equated to a 10-2 Lasers advantage. The Pirates bounced back to pull within 18-17, but IVC never relinquished the lead.
The third game again started with a Lasers run and again saw an OCC rally. The Pirates, who trailed by as much as six, chipped away at the deficit to pull within 22-21. For every Lasers point, OCC nailed out one in return, keeping itself within a point or two of the guests.
A misplay by IVC evened the game at 26. The Lasers responded by hammering out three straight points to grab the match point, 29-26, before watching their season end in flawless fashion.
“What’s really neat is that everyone we beat in our first round, we beat better in the second,” Yi said.
When IVC met the Pirates in the first round of conference action, the Lasers defeated the visitors in four games.
IVC began the Southern California Regional Playoffs on Tuesday when the No. 1 seeded Lasers hosted No. 16 Palomar. Refer to www.lariatnews.com for results.