IVC prevails in battle for first

JUST OUT OF REACH

Cerise Ostrem

Friday’s sweep over visiting Golden West College boosted Irvine Valley into sole possession of first place in the Pacific Coast Conference.

The Lasers 30-27, 30-21, 30-16 victory broke the Rustlers’ (8-5, 6-1) six-match winning streak and added to their own winning streak, now at 11 matches.

The Lasers coaching staff attributes much of the success to their team’s last and only loss this season, a 3-1 nonconference defeat to L.A. Pierce on February 15.

“LA Pierce is one of the better teams in the state,” assistant coach Jay Hosack said. “It sends a message that we have a lot of work to do and it reinforces to (the athletes) that they aren’t the end all. They are awesome kids, but it is good for them to lose every one in a while to keep them down to earth.”

Don’t tell that to IVC’s Peter Johnson, who came into Friday’s match ranked third in the conference in kills with 3.89 per game. The sophomore outside hitter added to that total with 18 more against the Rustlers and also recorded three digs.

Morgan Suttich had nine kills and six digs and Adam El-Rakabawy had nine kills and three block assists for the Lasers (13-1, 8-0), who trailed, 17-13, in game two before going on a 17-4 run en route to a nine-point victory.

“I think the loss (to LA Pierce) helped us,” said sophomore libero Kaleo Baxter, who had seven digs in the victory. “We just tried to do the little things right.”

IVC travels to Orange Coast College on Wednesday. The Pirates (10-5, 6-2) have won three straight since dropping back-to-back matches against Hope International and Golden West. IVC swept OCC earlier this season.

“We’ve had our best match against Orange Coast,” Hosack said. “We are still putting some things together. The beauty of it is that, if one person isn’t doing his job, we have others who can step in to the positions.”

The match will start at 6 p.m. in Pirate Gymnasium.

“I don’t they have played their best yet,” said Hosack of his players. “That is the scary part.”

HOW SWEET THE SOUND

DOWN AND DIRTY

SAVING GRACE

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