Irvine Valley's women's volleyball team shocked state No. 1-ranked Cabrillo with a dazzling offensive attack and ended the host Seahawks' 62-match winning streak with a 25-14, 25-13, 25-20 sweep in the winner's bracket final to close out day 1 of the CCCAA State Championship at Cabrillo on Saturday.
The day started with three undefeated teams and now Irvine Valley, the South's top seed, is the one team left standing without a loss at 26-0.
The Lasers hit a phenomenal .615 to open the match, not making an attack error until it was up 14-7 in the second set on their 40th attempt (24 kills).
Irvine Valley hit .556 in the opening set to win by 11 points. Tied at 5-5, the Lasers outscored Cabrillo, 20-9, closing it out on a two-handed attempt by sophomore outside hitter Marisa Doran trickled over the net for set point.
In the second set, IVC went on an 8-1 run to take a 10-3 lead and never looked back. Two attack errors by Cabrillo closed out that set.
In the final set, Irvine Valley again went on an 8-1 run to take a 10-4 lead. The Seahawks finally showed some spark, scoring five straight points and eventually tying it at 16-16 on a kill by All-American Kelsey Shaver.
The Lasers found that magic rally number again with yet another 8-1 run to take a 24-17 lead. Cabrillo fought off match point three times before freshman middle blocker Hannah Matt capped the sweep for Irvine with a kill.
Doran hit .444 overall, pounding 17 kills with one error (36 attempts) while Matt knocked down eight kills.
All-American sophomore middle blocker Annie Mitchem, who put on a clinic in the team's opening match win over Feather River earlier in the day, scored 15 kills with 10 digs.
Sophomore setter Hailey Jones contributed 39 assists and added two aces.
Irvine Valley's strong play included one rally where it hit four consecutive smashes, the first three dug out by Cabrillo's defense, but the last one resulting in a kill by freshman opposite Juju Cannon.
Twice, Irvine Valley made spectacular defensive plays that resulted in a dig-and-over kill by Doran and Mitchem, who somehow saved a block on the floor and her return landed for a kill.
Shaver led Cabrillo with 13 kills (51 attempts) and added three aces. Cassandra Covington made 17 digs.
"We knew Irvine Valley was good, but I don't think we've ever faced a team that would just attack, attack and attack again," said Cabrillo head coach Gabby Houston-Neville. "Annie Mitchem is a far better player than a year ago here. I think some of our players were expecting a free ball at some point, but Irvine just pounded it on every ball. We hope to have a chance to face Irvine again in the finals."
Irvine Valley head coach Tom Pestolesi was pleased with how his team's outside hitters made a big improvement from the Feather River match.
"Everyone's hitting got better and it had a lot to do with our setter (Jones) playing a great match," Pestolesi said. "My assistant coach Ki Yi had a good talk with her before the game to settle her down, and get her to understand that we have a plan and she needed to follow it. And she really stepped up and took control.
"I think there were times where we were outhustled this year, but tonight we were the team that went hard for every ball and you have to do that against a team like Cabrillo."
The Lasers finished with just six attack errors overall and hit .398 as a team for the match. Cabrillo hit .145 with 15 errors.
Irvine Valley advances to the championship final at 3:30 p.m. Cabrillo will play the winner of Grossmont/Feather River at 1 p.m.