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.
The No. 1 story is Annie Mitchem's two-year run of dominance at Irvine Valley. She won just about every honor imaginable, including being named the America Volleyball Coaches Association Two-Year National Player of the Year for the second year in a row. Mitchem also became Irvine Valley's first ever California Community College Athletic Association female athlete of the year (for all sports) after helping IVC win indoor and sand titles during the 2014-15 school year. The 6-2 Mitchem also won an individual sand title, teaming with Emily Reinking to take the No. 2 pairs title at the inaugural CCCAA Women's Volleyball State Championships this past spring.
Irvine Valley star women's volleyball player Annie Mitchem became the school's first-ever state athlete of the year this summer.
The award was announced by the California Community College Athletic Association.
Mitchem, who stood out in women's volleyball and women's sand volleyball, was named the female athlete of the year.
Hartnell cross country and track and field runner Diego Leon was selected as the male athlete of the year.
Mitchem is the top female athlete to ever come through Irvine Valley.
She captured three CCCAA State Championships during the 2014-15 academic year.
Two of the state championships came with teams, and she also earned an individual state title.
The 6-2 sophomore middle blocker helped Irvine Valley win its first ever women's volleyball state title last fall.
The team finished with a record of 27-0 and Mitchem was named the Orange Empire Conference MVP, All-American and all-state for the second year in a row along with being the State Tournament MVP.
IVC dropped just seven sets all season.
She also earned prestigious national recognition for the second straight year, being named the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Two-Year College National Player of the Year once again.
In her three matches at the state tournament, she was dominant with 58 kills and 15 blocks in 11 sets, while making only five errors in 99 attempts (.535). Against Feather River she set a state tournament record for highest kill percentage at .826 (19 kills, 0 errors, 23 attempts).
She was a six-rotation, all-around playing middle blocker that led the nation in hitting percentage (.517). Mitchem was fourth in the state in blocks per set at 1.24, 10th in total kills with 358 and 13th in kills per set at 4.26.
She had double figure kills in 21 of 27 matches and also recorded eight matches with double figure digs.
"What I like the most is that she has been just so engaged in everything - personally, with her teammates and with her academics," Irvine Valley coach Tom Pestolesi said after the indoor state tournament last fall. "It has been great to see how she has grown as a person and it has made her an even better volleyball player. Our entire coaching staff has been so very proud of her this year."
Mitchem then helped lead Irvine Valley's sand volleyball team to the inaugural CCCAA title this past spring.
Irvine Valley went undefeated against community college competition and defeated Grossmont, Golden West and Cabrillo in the state tournament.
Mitchem also teamed with freshman Emily Reinking to win the No. 2 pairs state title.
"She's the best player I've seen ever at the community college level," Pestolesi said of Mitchem. "She can do everything."
In winning the AVCA Two-Year honor for the second straight year, she became just the second player to do so in the history of the award.
Fabiana Spisso de Abreu of Southern Idaho in 1998 and 1999 is the only other player to accomplish the feat.
Mitchem came to Irvine Valley from Friendswood High School in Friendswood, Texas, and is continuing her volleyball career at the University of Hawaii.
"Hawaii is perfect fit and we are so happy for her," Pestolesi said. "She is going to get even better."
As a freshman in 2013 at IVC, Mitchem helped IVC to a 24-2 record, a conference title and a third-place finish at the state tournament.
She ended the season ranked first in hitting percentage (.436) and blocks per set (1.61) while placing second in kills (309) and third in kills per set (3.64) in conference.
Mitchem also led the state statistics in total blocks (137) blocks per set (1.61).
AVCA Two-Year Colleges National Players of the Year
2014: Annie Mitchem (Irvine Valley College)
2013: Annie Mitchem (Irvine Valley College)
2012: Keani Passi (Southern Idaho)
2011: Xiao Liang (Iowa Lakes)
2010: Roslandy Acosta (Cowley County)
2009: Yiting Cao (Illinois Central)
2008: Kayla Schmidt (Blinn)
2007: Soriana Pacheco (Western Nebraska)
2006: Juliana Paz (Iowa Western)
2005: JoAnna Kaczor (Southern Idaho)
2004: Keila Oliviera (Miami-Dade)
2003: Nevena Siljegovic (Moorpark)
2002: Madelaynne Montano (Miami-Dade)
2001: Juliana Escobar (Barton County)
2000: Stephanie Martin (Southern Idaho)
1999: Fabiana Spisso de Abreu (Southern Idaho)
1998: Fabiana Spisso de Abreu (Southern Idaho)
1997: Hai Yan (Southern Idaho)
1996: Jenni Roselli (Spokane Falls)
1995: Paula Araujo (Southern Idaho)
1994: Katianne Simonetti (Southern Idaho)
1993: Jessica Lee (Golden West)
1992: Pele Baker (Eastern Arizona)
1991: Hilda Gaxiola (Texas Southmost)
1990: Sandra Pena (Miami-Dade-Wolfson Campus)
1989: Kristine Cousins (Miami-Dade-South Campus)
1988: Nicole Stubbs (Schoolcraft)
1987: Sonia Trevino (San Jacinto-Central Campus)