No. 3 on the list of Irvine Valley's top 10 athletics stories of the 2013-14 school year is focused around the remarkable season that the Irvine Valley women's volleyball team had last fall.
Irvine Valley was ranked among the top teams in the state all season, didn't lose a match until the State Championships and finished third at the state event.
The Lasers ended with a record of 24-2.
On their way, the Lasers recorded 19 three-set sweeps and won the fourth Orange Empire Conference in program history.
The Irvine Valley women's volleyball team turned in a special season last fall.
The Lasers finished third at the CCCAA Championships.
They also won an Orange Empire Conference title, ran off 24 victories in a row, were ranked No. 2 in the state and No. 1 in Southern California at the end of the regular season and had several players and coach Tom Pestolesi earn accolades. The conference title was the fourth in program history.
IVC freshman middle blocker Annie Mitchem was named conference MVP, all-state and All-American, freshman setter Hailey Jones was selected first team all-conference and all-Southern California, sophomore libero Becky Moodie and freshman outside hitter Marisa Doran were named first team all-conference, sophomore outside hitter Alexis Radecki and freshman outside hitter Kobi Pekich were each picked second team all-conference and Pestolesi was selected as the Southern California Coach of the Year.
The Lasers had their 24-match winning streak snapped at the State Championships last December.
They fell to the top-ranked team in the state, Cabrillo, in five dramatic sets, 28-26, 15-25, 25-19, 15-25, 15-11.
Irvine Valley then lost to Grossmont, 25-23, 25-16, 25-21, in a loser's bracket match on Sunday to fall out of the double-elimination event at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills.
Cabrillo went on to beat Grossmont in the state championship finale and ended the season 31-0.
"I look back at a season where it was an enjoyable journey," Pestolesi said at the time. "We won what is the toughest conference in the state and it's a feat to get this far. We've made it to state now six times and those years we've been just a little better than others."
The third-place finish tied for second-best in Irvine Valley history. The Lasers also finished third in 2009, which was their last trip to the state event.
The 2003 IVC team was the state runner-up to Golden West.
In the loss to Grossmont, the Lasers were led by freshman middle blocker Annie Mitchem with eight kills and freshman setter Hailey Jones who tallied 23 assists and three aces. Sophomore middle blocker Haley Whyte added five kills and two blocks.
Irvine Valley started the four-team state event on a Saturday afternoon with a win before dropping the two matches in a row.
It swept American River, 25-21, 25-19, 25-15. The victory was Irvine Valley's 19th sweep of the season.
The 6-2 Mitchem had 11 kills, Radecki added 10 kills (and four blocks) and hit. 444 and Doran contributed 10 kills (with three aces and nine digs).
Jones finished with 38 assists, while Moodie added 16 digs.
On the season, Mitchem averaged 3.64 kills and 1.61 blocks per set and hit .436.
Doran averaged 2.73 kills and 2.05 digs per set and Radecki averaged 2.32 kills per set.
Moodie averaged 4.68 digs and Jones averaged 10.59 assists and 2.20 digs per set.
IVC averaged 12.38 kills per set as a team and hit .292.
*In leading up to the start of the 2014-15 athletics campaign at Irvine Valley, which starts on Aug. 25 with women's volleyball, the Laser athletic department will countdown the top 10 IVC sports stories from the 2013-14 school year.
The countdown will begin on Thursday, Aug. 7 with the No. 10 story of the year and work its way down to No. 1 on Thursday, Aug. 21.
Some of the top stories in the running for the top 10 include special seasons by the women's soccer, men's tennis, women's volleyball and women's sand volleyball teams along with individual accolades earned by several IVC athletes for hard work both on the playing fields and courts and in the classroom.