It wasn't easy, but the Irvine Valley women's volleyball team moved past the first round of the California Community College Athletic Association South Regional Playoffs on Tuesday night.
The Lasers, seeded first in the regionals, had to rally in the first two sets before beating a gritty No. 16 Pasadena squad, 27-25, 25-22, 25-18.
Irvine Valley, which has been the top-ranked team in the state all season and is the defending state champion, moves on to the second round on Saturday and will host the winner of No. 8 Orange Coast and No. 9 Ventura.
Match time is slated for 6 p.m. on Saturday at Irvine Valley.
With the win Tuesday, Irvine Valley improved its record to 19-1 overall. Pasadena City, which won the South Coast Conference North Division for the second year in a row, ends its season at 13-13.
IVC trailed much of the first two sets against Pasadena City.
The Lasers were down by as many as five points (18-13) in the opening set before fighting their way back.
But Pasadena City didn't go away. The Lancers rallied and took a 25-24 lead on two straight kills by Leslie Rivera.
Irvine Valley tied it a 25 and then got a kill from freshman outside hitter Alaina Gendale and a doubles called on the Pasadena City set to take the opening frame.
The Lasers got off to a slow start in the second set as well.
Pasadena City scored five of the first six points. Irvine Valley then won four straight points to tie things up at 5-5.
It was back and forth from there. The Lancers went up, 13-11, after an IVC hitting error.
And Pasadena City led, 18-17 after another IVC error.
But the Lasers won three points in a row behind sophomore specialist Jade Parham to go up, 19-18, and IVC never trailed again.
A kill by Gendale gave Irvine Valley a 22-18 advantage.
Ahead, 23-22, Irvine Valley got a kill from Gendale and a Pasadena City hitting error to end the set.
The Lasers jumped out to a 11-5 lead in the third set behind back-to-back kills by sophomore middle blocker Jacqueline Wolfe and kill from Gendale.
But Pasadena City still didn't go away.
Irvine Valley led, 20-10, in the third set, but the Lancers won five straight points to get within 20-15.
A kill by Gendale got the Lasers back on track at 21-15.
Pasadena City pulled within 21-17 on a kill by Camille Ferguson, but Irvine Valley won four of the last five points to close out the match.
A kill by sophomore middle blocker Jacqueline Wolfe set up match point and a bad set by the Lancers ended things.
Gendale led Irvine Valley with 10 kills. Wolfe added nine kills, including five in the third and final set. Austin contributed eight kills.
Bath had a team-high 16 digs for the Lasers with Kruse chipping in 12 digs and three aces and Gendale finishing with 10 digs.
Freshman setter Truth Hafey had 32 assists and four digs for Irvine Valley.