No. 1 state-ranked Irvine Valley has been a lot of things and average isn’t one of them. Friday’s sophomore night was no exception.
The ordinary setting of parents and bouquets tread into extraordinary territory as the Lasers broke not one, but two school records, moving onto a program-high 20-0 (12-0) with a 30-19, 30-13, 30-28 sweep of visiting Cypress College.
“It’s exciting while, at the same time, in all honesty, I didn’t really know,” said assistant coach Ki Yi. “We don’t talk about any of those things. We just try to take care of things day-by-day and I tell you they do a good job at just keeping their heads on.”
One sophomore in particular embodied the spirit of the night. After leading her team in kills all season long, outside hitter Chelsea Pavlik now leads the school in most kills in a season, finishing the match with 18 kills to set an all-time high 394 kills.
“It’s exciting,” Pavlik said. “There’s not a better night to do it than your last night here.”
The Lasers’ impressive night didn’t stop with two program records. With Friday’s win, IVC clinched the status of Orange Empire Conference champion.
With records broken and conference title clinched, the match itself was the only thing that was close to average Friday. The Lasers, who swept in 13 of their 19 victories, sailed to easy 30-19 and 30-13 wins in the first two games.
Slightly less indicative of their dominate style, IVC struggled at closing the Chargers out in the final game. The Lasers battled point-by-point through the first half before falling victim to a 4-0 Chargers surge that gave the 8-16 (4-8) visitors both a 16-12 lead and hope of preventing the sweep.
The Lasers saw their deficit increase to 18-13 before Pavlik took things into her own hands. After knocking down her record-breaking kill to stop the bleeding, the outside hitter hammered out seven more blows in the 13-8 run that tied the game at 26.
“When she decides to turn it on, it’s pretty incredible what she can do,” Yi said. “It’s scary. I wouldn’t want to be on the other side of the net.”
Back in control, the Lasers needed no more than a Cypress hitting error, a Pavlik ace, and kill by Marilena Guadagnini to save the sweep.
“As bad as we were doing, it was kind of exciting,” Pavlik said. “Close games are always more fun to me than not so close games.”
Pavlik also finished with 12 digs and three aces. She sits in seventh on the all-time list for digs in a season with 248 is now tied for third all-time for a season in aces with 50.
Guadagnini finished with eight kills and three aces. Freshman Katie Pascoe added another four aces.
With its 20th straight win under its belt, Irvine will close out the regular season Wednesday in climatic fashion. The Lasers will travel to Orange Coast College to take on their OEC rival which will be looking to avenge its earlier 3-1 loss from the teams’ first match in conference action.
“Rilvary is always there and I know they’re going to want to kill us,” Yi said.
While the second time around is even more anticipated than the first, as the Pirates are now looking to defend their home floor on their sophomore night and spoil their rivals’ perfect season record, IVC is keeping its focus on one thing.
“For us it’s not necessarily about beating or losing to OCC. It’s more about just let’s make sure we’re maintaining our level of play and let’s just get one percent better,” Yi said. “Our bigger push is that we’re about to end one season and we’re about to start our other post season.”
The match’s first serve is at 7 p.m.
“They’re not the No. 1 team playing volleyball,” Ki said. “They’re just Irvine Valley playing volleyball.”