The Irvine Valley women's volleyball team saw its 2018 season come to an end with a four-set loss to American River in the semifinals of the California Community College Athletic Association State Championship at Solano College in Fairfield.
Underdog American River College knocked out state No. 1-ranked Irvine Valley in four sets, 24-26, 25-21, 25-23, 25-23, on Saturday at Soloano College in Fairfield and in the process created the first All-North championship final in the 42-year history of the CCCAA Women's Volleyball State Championship tournament.
American River went on to capture its first ever state title on Sunday over Fresno City.
The Beavers rallied from a set down and then ran the table on Irvine Valley, the defending state champions who finished the year at 21-2.
Irvine Valley finished in a tie for third place at state.
Leading the Beavers run was 5-8 middle blocker Kendall Welpott, who had a perfect day in attacks with 14 kills in 21 attempts (hit .667, the highest by a player in a match since Irvine Valley's Annie Mitchem hit .826 at the 2014 state championships) and added nine blocks (one solo). Only 13 other players had as many as nine blocks since the championship stats started to be recorded in 1999.
Another big player for American River was Andreia Keane, who contributed 18 kills, hit .441 and added 11 digs. Libero Maddie Adams made 27 digs while Savanah Smith finished with 25 assists, five kills, 18 digs and six block assists. Allison Linder added seven kills and three blocks off the Beavers' bench.
For Irvine Valley, sophomore outside hitter Alyssa Vortouni led with 13 kills (.313), freshman setter Truth Hafey dished out 40 assists, freshman outside hitter Lea Kruse had 11 kills and 14 digs, sophomore middle blocker Jacqueline Wolfe scored eight kills and sophomore libero Renata Bath totaled 21 digs. Freshman outside hitter Alaina Gendale added nine kills and 13 digs while sophomore specialist Jade Parham served three aces.
"Irvine Valley is a great ball control team and we came in with the idea we had to outlast them," American River coach Carson Lowden said. "We wanted to cut down their block. We also felt we needed to go to our middles more for kills.
"Welpott is what we call an exploding star because she emits so much energy. She is relentless and works so hard to put herself in a position to make a kill. We just kept feeding her and she delivered. Sometimes we let our emotions out, but today I told the players we were our most business-like in following our game plan and being so focused. We let out the emotions after we won it."
Lasers coach Tom Pestolesi said, "American River was better than us today. I don't think we were at our best on first contacts. ARC is more physical than we've faced. Still, I look back at this being late in my coaching career and can say that I wasn't just filling a chair. We had a great run with state titles in 2014 and 2017, and I'm proud of the kids who made us a great program, and my assistant coaching staff who have been a big part of that success."
Just like against El Camino in the quarterfinals, American River dropped the opening set.
But in the second set, the Beavers jumped out to a 20-11 lead and then tied the match.
In the third set, American River led, 21-17, But IVC pulled ahead at 23-22 on a kill by Vortouni.
Smith set Keane and Linder for kills and an Irvine Valley setting error gave American River a 2-1 sets lead.
In the final set, the Beavers took a 15-10 lead, but again the Lasers battled back to tie it 23-23. Welpott blasted her 14th kill and a combined stuff block by Smith and Danica Minard went for match point.