It was a magical season for the LBCC men’s volleyball team, as the Vikings made it all the way to Saturday’s CCCAA state championship match against perennial rivals Orange Coast. The Vikings were the reigning state champs after winning in 2019, the last time a season was held prior to two years of COVID-19 shutdowns. This year was the Pirates’ year, however, as they swept the Vikings 25-22, 25-21, 25-22.
LBCC was good enough to get leads in all three sets, but fell short in late-game execution as they led 22-21 and 21-20 in the first and second sets, but then didn’t score again after that. The Vikings also led 15-10 in the third set before giving up a 10-1 run.
“I think it was really hard for us to adjust to their physicality,” said LBCC coach Jonathan Charette. “They showed it from the service line, they showed it at the net. We’ve been trying to prepare all season for what they brought, and we just weren’t able to handle it…there are times we jumped out to leads, but their size and physicality got to us.”
The Pirates outhit the Vikings .247 to .220, and outblocked them 10-3 in the match. Vikings setters Sean Nguyen and Joseph Rocha had 20 and 12 assists, respectively, with Coby Prowse and Julian Zavala leading the way with eight kills apiece.
OCC was led by setters Josh Friedman and Grayson Kling, who had 29 assists, and Will Anderson, who had 10 kills.
“There were some rotations where we just couldn’t side out,” said Charette. “They did a really good job, they were all over us.”
The Vikings’ brand of uptempo volleyball was fun to watch for the packed crowd in the volleyball gym at El Camino College, but the Pirates were the bigger and more physical team, and that was the story that won the day. It doesn’t damper the accomplishment of LBCC, playing their way into the state championship.
“This is a tough night because it was such a good season, and I like the transformation all my guys have started,” said Charette. “I’m really proud of the guys. It does hurt because we’re competitors, but it’s hard to be upset when I got to spend the past nine months with these guys. We just came right out of COVID and tried to win it.”