Pirates host Grossmont in men's volleyball state quarterfinals

Pirates host Grossmont in men's volleyball state quarterfinals

COSTA MESA -- The Orange Coast College men's volleyball team has earned the No. 1 seed in the state and will host eight-seeded Grossmont in the opening round of the California Community College Athletic Association Men's Volleyball State Championship, which begins on Friday at 6 p.m.

The winner of Friday's state quarterfinals will head to L.A. Pierce College, the host school of the semfinals and finals, and will face the winner between No. 5-seed LAPC and No. 4-seed Santa Monica City College. The state semis will be on Thursday, April 27 at 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. with the state championship to take place on Saturday, April 29, at 7 p.m. (Bracket)

The Pirates (18-1), winners of 17 straight and champions of the Orange Empire Conference, swept the Griffins (6-10) in a nonconference matchup back on March 3, but scores (27-25, 26-24, 25-19) showed a closer contest than it might appear.

Led by the 1-2 punch of sophomore outside hitters Jordan Hoppe (200 kills, 110 digs, 24 aces) and Justin Kam (199 kills, 39 blocks, 88 digs) as well as sophomore opposite Matt Ujkic (119 kills, 36 blocks, 53 digs), Coast brings a solid offensive and defensive gameplan into Friday's match. In their previous matchup with the Griffins, Kam had 13 kills and nine digs, while Ujkic added 10 kills and three blocks to lead the way for the Pirates.

Coast's first-year setters, a worried spot for head coach Travis Turner coming into the season, have been solid, thanks to the 1-2 combination of freshmen Colby Elder (409 assists, 77 digs) and Jacob Gilliam (244 assists, 44 digs). 

Hoppe's 110 digs leads the OCC defense, with Kam (88), Elder (77) and freshman Cole Aidnik (72) close behind.

Freshman middle blocker Bradley Hankus (69 kills, team-best 64 blocks), leads a front row that has notched 322 total blocks, while the opposition has notched only 182 total blocks.

It was a rough start to the season for the Griffins, who lost nine of their first 10 matches, but things turned around in the Pacific Coast Conference, where they went 5-1 and won the PCAC.

Leading the way for Grossmont is sophomore outside hitter Steven Rodriguez, who has 235 kills to go along with 103 digs and 42 blocks.

Fellow sophomore OH Jonathan Ferrari (115 kills, 54 digs) is a solid second option as the Griffins possess a solid 1-2 combination on offense.

Freshman libero Sean Reilly is second on the team behind Rodriguez with 92 digs, while Nicholas Calderon is close behind with 81 digs.