Irvine Valley stumbles in for fourth victory

Cerise Ostrem

The Lasers that sloppily closed out Friday’s 30-23, 30-28, 30-28 victory over Santa Monica College looked like a different squad than the men’s volleyball team that fired its way through the previous two-and-a-half games.

IVC’s lackluster ending was also far from indicative of the team with the 4-1 nonconference start and, as coach Tom Pestolesi hopes, will be far from routine as the season continues.

“We can kind of get away with that now because it’s not a big deal, but if that happens later on, especially in conference, it’s going to hurt us,” Pestolesi said. “So we just wanted to impress upon them that it’s not okay to limp in. We need to put the pedal to the metal, all those silly cliches, and just finish the right way.”

The Lasers did just that two days prior in a 32-30, 30-21, 30-28 sweep over visiting Long Beach City College to bounce back from their first defeat of the season.

Led by sophomore outside hitter Peter Johnson’s 14 kills, IVC edged out victories over the Vikings in games one and three that both saw 28-28 ties, while maintaining at least a four-point lead in the final stretch of game two.

Prior to Friday’s ending lull, the Lasers radiated that same spirit of consistency. With a 10-2 run that propelled them to a 25-18 lead in game three, the hosts transferred their one-point deficit to an all-but-definite victory.

Johnson, who finished with 10 kills and eight digs Friday, was accompanied on the leaderboard by freshman Reese Haine, who led the team with 11 kills. Sophomore Tim Golden had nine kills and eight digs and freshman Nick Martus had eight kills.

On the defensive end, sophomore middle blocker Adam El-Rakabawy had three solo blocks and three assist blocks while sophomore libero Kaleo Baxter finished with eight digs. Setter Phil Younglove had eight digs and dished out 36 assists.

While the contribution on the court has come across the board for the Lasers starters, the team expects to dive into their bench as well as the season progresses.

The second-team talents, such as sophomore Morgan Suttich, freshman setter Andrew Mabry, sophomore Mitch Lawrence, freshman Matt Mallon, freshman Jake Celestin and freshman libero Kawika Mayo, have played integral roles in making IVC better in practice and providing the key element of depth.

“Guys are going to get hurt, things are going to happen,” Pestolesi said. “We have the utmost confidence that no matter what happens in any position, we can put someone in and we’ll just sail right home.”

The Lasers will travel to Moorpark College, Wednesday, to conclude nonconference play before hosting San Diego Mesa, Feb. 29. Both matches are at 6 p.m.

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