Pirates clinch Orange Empire Conference title with win over Lasers

Pirates clinch Orange Empire Conference title with win over Lasers

COSTA MESA -- The Orange Coast College men's volleyball team became the newest Orange Empire Conference champion after topping Irvine Valley College in four sets on Wednesday night inside the Peterson Gym.

Jordan Hoppe had 20 kills, while Justin Kam added 18 to lead the No. 1-ranked Pirates (17-1, 7-0 in conference) to a 25-14, 25-22, 22-25, 25-20 win over the No. 2-ranked Lasers (14-3, 5-2).

Austin Marriott slammed down nine kills in the middle, while Zane Moothart provided offensive depth and added eight kills of his own for Coast.

Setters Jacob Gilliam and Colby Elder combined for 54 assists, while on defense, Elder and Cole Aidnik each came up with four digs.

For the Lasers, Patrick Furlong led the way with 12 kills, while Matt August knocked down nine kills and a team-best six blocks. Setter Austin McBain dished out 35 assists.

The opening set had the same feel as the first matchup of the season as the Pirates -- winners over the Lasers 25-20, 25-11, 25-15 at IVC on March 24 -- jumped out to a 19-11 lead and cruised to an opening-set win. Kam had three kills, while Hoppe added two during that run, leading Coast to a 1-0 lead in the match.

IVC regrouped and battled OCC throughout the second set, a set which saw the lead change sides nine different times. Coast trailed 20-19 before kills by Hoppe and Moothart pushed OCC ahead, 21-20. An OCC serve went long to even the score at 21 before the Pirates picked up three critical points in a row to lead, 24-21. A block by Hoppe, a kill by Marriott and a wide return by the Lasers pushed Coast to a set-point opportunity.

After IVC made it 24-22 on a double-hit violation, the Lasers sent a return wide, giving OCC a 2-0 lead in the match.

OCC led 5-4 early in the third set before the Lasers caught fire and used an 11-4 run to grab the lead for good in the third set. Several unforced OCC errors proved costly as Irvine remained alive in the match following its 25-22 win.

It was another back-and-forth battle in the fourth set as the Lasers and Pirates battled to a 14-14 tie. Middle blocker Bradley Hankus came up with a big kill and shared a block with Matt Ujkic to spark a 5-1 spurt and gave Coast a 19-15 advantage.

IVC would get to within three at 22-19, but the Pirates would not be denied as they managed to close things out and pick up the win and the inaugural OEC title.

Coast will wrap up the regular season at home on Friday against Santiago Canyon, beginning at 6 p.m.