Irvine Valley's women's volleyball team defeated its second NAIA school this season, knocking off Vanguard, 25-20, 25-15, 25-18, at home on Tuesday night.
Vanguard (15-7) came into the match ranked 21st in the country. The Lions had lost in four sets to No. 3 Concordia last Saturday. Irvine Valley, which is ranked second in the state and first in Southern California among community colleges, defeated Concordia in five sets earlier this season.
"It says a lot about our team this year," said Irvine Valley coach Tom Pestolesi of his squad, which improved to 7-0 on the season with Tuesday's win. "When we are ready to play and focused we are so good."
IVC wasn't ready early on, falling behind, 6-1, in the opening set.
But the Lasers found themselves and stormed back to tie the match and then take the lead. A kill by freshman opposite Juju Cannon put the team up, 17-12. Vanguard got within 17-15 after back-to-back blocks for points.
Irvine Valley then went on a 6-2 run to take control.
Up 24-20, a kill by sophomore outside hitter Marisa Doran ended the first set.
Vanguard led, 3-1, in the second set, and then Irvine Valley got on a roll. The Lasers scored six straight points, capped by kills by Cannon, sophomore outside hitter Kobi Pekich and sophomore middle blocker Annie Mitchem, to go ahead, 7-3.
The lead only grew from there. A kill by Doran, a kill by Cannon and a Vanguard hitting error put IVC up, 19-11.
Irvine Valley finished the set with a kill by sophomore outside hitter Shaelyn Perez, a block by Mitchem and Perez and a kill by Mitchem.
The third set was close until Mitchem posted a kill and Doran recorded consecutive kills to give Irvine Valley a 11-7 lead.
Then two kills in a row by Mitchem, including a big blast down the middle, put IVC ahead, 18-13.
A kill and then ace by sophomore setter Hailey Jones made it 22-17.
Four points later Doran ended things. She came through with a kill to bring up match point. And then Doran served an ace that clipped the net and fell over to complete the sweep.
"The key for us was that we didn't panic when we got behind early," Pestolesi said. "We had one kills and four (hitting) errors in the first six points and then just eight errors the rest of the night."
Irvine Valley ended up hitting an impressive .326 as a team.
"And it happened against a good team," Pestolesi said. "Annie hit .556 again tonight and really crushed a few, Marisa was awesome again. She is really dialed in. Hailey was very good. Juju gave us a nice lift and I thought Hannah (Matt) and Kobi did all of the little things we needed."
Mitchem and Pekich each had special nights on the stat sheet. Mitchem finished with 12 kills, five blocks, five digs, two aces, two assists and hit .556, while Pekich had three kills, one blocks, three digs, two aces and one assist.
"That quintuple single is one of my favorite stats," Pestolesi said. "You have to get at least one kill, dig, blocks, ace and assist. It is so hard to do."
Doran led the way in kills for the team with 14. She also had four digs and two aces. Cannon finished with seven kills and five blocks, Matt had three kills and five blocks and Jones contributed 34 assists and five digs.
Irvine Valley opens up Orange Empire Conference play on Friday at Golden West at 6 p.m.