FULLERTON -- The quest for back-to-back state titles fell one match short for the Orange Coast College men's volleyball team on Saturday night as the Pirates fell to L.A. Pierce College in four sets at the California Community College Athletic Association Men's Volleyball State Championship, hosted by Fullerton College.
Kyle McCauley had 17 kills and Wyatt Henson added 16, but it wasn't enough as the No. 2-seeded Pirates dropped the title match to the fourth-seeded Brahmas, 25-22, 17-25, 31-29, 25-21. Bradley Hankus added eight kills, while Zane Moothart added six. The setting duo of Colby Elder and Jacob Gilliam combined for 50 assists, while libero Braden Neumann notched a team-best eight digs.
For the Brahmas -- who lost only one set in the playoffs while topping Fullerton, top-seeded Long Beach and OCC to win the title -- tournament MVP Cole Chea led the way with 21 kills with just one error on 27 attempts (.741 hitting percentage) to go along with three solo blocks and two block assists, while Maximilian Petuhov added 12 kills and a team-best 12 digs. Setter Bernardo Reese dished out 48 assists.
Both teams went back and forth in the opening set until LAPC broke a 21-21 tie with three straight points to grab the lead for good. A Chea kill and a pair of OCC hitting errors triggered the run and the Brahmas took the set.
Coast came out with more aggression in the second set and jumped out to a 17-11 advantage. Multiple errors by the Brahmas and multiple kills by McCauley, Henson and Hankus helped the Pirates capture the second set and even the match at a set apiece.
Following a brief hall of fame ceremony, the match resumed and the momentum carried by the Pirates after the second set lost some of its steam heading into the third as LAPC jumped out to an 18-14 advantage. Kills by Moothart and Hankus helped spark a 4-0 run by OCC to even the set at 18, but Pierce responded and held two set points on the Pirates at 24-22.
But an attack error by the Brahmas and a kill by Henson evened the match. The Pirates then had three set-point opportunities of their own, but could not put Pierce away. Finally, trailing, 29-28, LAPC used a kill by Morgan Wadlow, a block by Chea and Bernardo Roece and a Petuhov kill pushed the Brahmas past OCC, 31-29.
With all the momentum on the side of the Brahmas, they busted out of the gate in the fourth set and grabbed a 15-6 lead. The advantage was 19-11 for LAPC before Coast found one last final push, using a 6-0 run to pull to within a pair at 19-17. Strong serves by Matthew Johnson threw the Brahmas off their game, while a pair of McCauley kills helped get the Pirates back into the set.
Coast stayed within two at 22-20, but could not get any closer as the Brahmas ended the match with a 3-1 run, capping off the championship with the final kill of the night coming from Chea. It was the first state title in men's volleyball since 2003 for the Brahmas and their eighth title in school history.
Both Elder and McCauley earned all-tournament honors for the Pirates, who advanced to the state title match for the 16th time in school history (seven state titles) and the seventh time in 12 seasons under head coach Travis Turner.