Pirates shake off slow start and top Rustlers in four

Pirates shake off slow start and top Rustlers in four

HUNTINGTON BEACH -- The Orange Coast College men's volleyball team opened up Orange Empire Conference play with a gritty, four-set win over host Golden West College on Wednesday night.

Jordan Hoppe and Justin Kam each had 10 kills, while Matt Ujkic and Austin Marriott each added nine kills as the Pirates overcame a sluggish start to topple the Rustlers, 14-25, 25-15, 25-17, 25-23.

In a battle between two of the top five teams in the state, the match may have lacked the cosmetic beauty that head coach Travis Turner would like, but in the end, the No. 2 Pirates (11-1, 1-0 in OEC) fought through the mistakes and willed their way past the No. 5 Rustlers (7-3, 0-1).

"We've got some guys on our team that just won't allow us to lose," Turner said. "Take a guy like Jordan (Hoppe) ... he's a guy who is as tough as nails and will just find a way to get it done. Was it pretty? No ... but I love the grit on this team."

The opening set was nothing short of U-G-L-Y for the Pirates, who missed seven serves and notched only two kills as the Rustlers grabbed the lead and the early momentum of the match. Four different GWC players had seven kills in the match as the offense was spread around effectively against the Pirates' defense.

After cruising throughout the second set to even the match, Coast used some strong serving from freshman setter Jacob Gilliam to rip off 11 straight points to grab control of the third set. Gilliam and fellow setter Colby Elder combined for 36 assists.

The Pirates will return to action on Wednesday as they host Fullerton College, beginning at 6 p.m. inside the Peterson Gym.