The562’s coverage of Vikings athletics is sponsored in part by Long Beach City College.
The Long Beach City College men’s volleyball team qualified for the state championships for the fourth consecutive year last weekend with a sweep of Santa Monica City College, 25-23, 26-16, 25-18.
The Vikings are the No. 1 team in the state and ride a streak of 14 consecutive sweeps into this week’s Final Four, to be held at El Camino College on Thursday and Saturday.
Head coach Jonathan Charette commented on how their previous experiences in state finals helps their team prepare for this year's playoffs.
“We are focusing on each player's individual development, we already know the physical and emotional stakes of competing at this level, we use past losses as learning tools, instead of a loss,” he said.
The first set was a back and forth game between the Vikings and the Corsairs. The Vikings were able to showcase big backrow attacks, and a fast-run offense to ultimately set them ahead of the curve after starting off down 12-8.
“We decided as a team that each practice should be 1% better than the last, a ‘case of the Mondays’ isn't an option for us anymore, we want to win, so we have to have that mindset no matter what,” sophomore setter and team captain Sean Nguyen said.
Freshman middle Cian Slade was a crucial asset for the Vikings. Slade crushed an overpass kill at 4-1, forcing Santa Monica to take a timeout. Not long after, he tallied two more kills, with two back to back overpass kills, forcing the Corsairs to take their last timeout of the set, at 16-11. Slade tallied 8 of the Vikings’ 37 kills.
“As a middle, I'm always prepared for not only our scramble plays, but the opposing teams’,” Slade said. “My connection as a middle with Sean not only benefits what I do on the court, but helps everyone else do their positional duties.”
Long Beach opened up the third set with back to back monster blocks. Freshman outside hitter Matthew Pennala with a solo block, followed by opposite Lucca Mamone and freshman pin hitter Georgi Binev with the double block. Nguyen had a two point run, acing the Corsairs after winning the joust.
Later in the set, Binev, who totaled 11 kills for the Vikings, had a crafty kill, which pulled Long Beach out of a 3-0 run. Santa Monica missed the serve on game point, to hand the Vikings the win.
The Vikings (18-1, 12-0) will be traveling to El Camino College this coming Thursday, April 27th at 7 p.m. to face No. 4 San Diego Mesa. LBCC enters the state Final Four as the top seed in the tournament, looking to win an 11th state title. If they advance from Thursday’s semifinal they’d face the winner of Orange Coast and Moorpark in Saturday’s championship match at 7 p.m.