In leading up to the start of the 2015-16 athletics campaign at Irvine Valley, which starts on Aug. 24 with women's volleyball competing in the Azusa Pacific scrimmage tournament, the Laser athletic department is counting down the top 10 IVC sports stories from the 2014-15 school year.
At No. 4 on the list is the perfect season turned in by the Irvine Valley sand volleyball team. The Lasers swept the team and individual competitions at the inaugural CCCAA State Championships at Irvine Valley in early May. The Lasers won the team state title on Friday and then had all three of their teams in the individual competition claim state titles on Saturday. Sophomores Marisa Doran and Kobi Pekich won the No. 1 team title, Sophomore Annie Mitchem and freshman Emily Reinking took the No. 2 team championship and sophomore Samantha Holdredge and freshman Hailee Earnest captured the No. 3 team title. This all followed Irvine Valley winning the indoor state title last fall.
Irvine Valley's women's volleyball team made it a perfect weekend in the first California Community College Athletic Association Women's Sand Volleyball Championships.
The Lasers won a team state title on Friday and then had all three of their teams in the individual competition claim state titles on Saturday at Irvine Valley.
Sophomores Marisa Doran and Kobi Pekich won the No. 1 team title, Sophomore Annie Mitchem and freshman Emily Reinking took the No. 2 team championship and sophomore Samantha Holdredge and freshman Hailee Earnest captured the No. 3 team title.
Irvine Valley also won the indoor title last fall.
Mitchem, the two-time AVCA 2-Year National Volleyball Player of the Year, and Reinking and Holdredge and Earnest each won their final matches in straight sets.
Mitchem and Reinking defeated Grossmont's Megan Angerstein and Lindsey Spinning, 21-12, 21-7, in the No. 2 pairs final match.
"Annie can be so intimidating out there," Irvine Valley coach Tom Pestolesi said. "She is so long and powerful, but also such a very good overall volleyball player and it shows on the sand. And Emily might only be 5-4, but she plays much bigger. She plays so hard and gets everything. She just competes. This weekend, they went right through everyone."
Holdredge and Earnest won, 21-15, 21-15, over Tiffany Cobain and Brooke Callahan of Grossmont in the No. 3 pairs final match.
"They might have been our best team over the last month," Pestolesi said. "They only really started playing together exclusively five or six weeks ago, but they are a perfect fit. They play relaxed and are both so very steady."
Holdredge and Earnest also made it to the Orange Empire Conference final match and were named the conference players of the year.
The No. 1 teams final match went down to the wire. Doran and Pekich won a tough battle over Grossmont's team of Lauren Hays and Lexi Reddick, 21-18, 18-21, 15-12 for the title.
"Kobi and Marisa have played together for two straight years," Pestolesi said. "They are our top team for a reason. They are always moving forward and going after it. They give 100 percent all of the time and are constantly putting pressure on the other team."
Irvine Valley's sand volleyball team didn't lose to another community college team the past two seasons either.
"It was awesome to watch what our gals did," Pestolesi said. "It just proves that we were the best team. This is the greatest group of women's volleyball players to ever come through Irvine Valley and it has been a pleasure to be their coach. They had the focus, drive and loved to play together."
In the team competition a day earlier, the Lasers finished with a record of 3-0 in the four-team sand event to claim the championship.
IVC defeated Cabrillo, 4-1, Grossmont, 5-0, and was up, 2-1, over Golden West when the match was clinched.
"We knew we had the talent," Pestolesi said. "You are always nervous and maybe even a little more nervous when you know you should win. But the girls stepped up when they needed to today. That second round against Grossmont was big and all of our girls really played well. Winning that match, 5-0, really put some separation between us and everyone else."
Irvine Valley got straight-set victories from all five of its teams against Grossmont.
Grossmont earned the runner-up trophy with a 2-1 record. It defeated Golden West, 5-0, and was up, 3-1, over Cabrillo when the match was halted.
Irvine Valley, Grossmont, Golden West and Cabrillo each won regional events on Tuesday to move on to the first-ever State Championship event.
Irvine Valley was the top-seeded team heading in to Friday.
"We have great players and our coaching staff is amazing," Pestolesi said. "Our assistant coaches Mike Cram and Butch May do such a good job and make it a lot of fun. It has all worked out so well for us."
Irvine Valley took care of Cabrillo first, defeated Grossmont and then won two of the first three matches against Golden West to clinch the title.
The IVC No. 4 team of Hannah Matt and Kayla Scheevel beat the Golden West team of Annie Ellis and Alyson Utke, 21-11, 21-17, and Irvine Valley's No. 5 team of Shaelyn Perez and Taylor Askins defeated Golden West's duo of Megan Sanchez and Kelsey Osgood, 21-14, 21-11, to help seal the overall IVC victory.
Perez and Askins won all three of their matches on the day. Matt and Scheevel went 2-1, dropping its first match to Cabrillo's team of Helen Milne and Allee Smallwood, 17-21, 21-17, 15-13.
"Our depth was the difference," Pestolesi said. "Our No. 4 team and No. 5 team started great and took pressure off of everyone else. Shaelyn and Taylor (No. 5 team) were our team of the day today. They were really steady. They were just phenomenal for us."
Irvine Valley also got two wins each from its No. 1 team of Pekich and Doran, No. 2 team of Mitchem and Reinking and No. 3 team of Holdredge and Earnest.