AS A COACH: With over 25 years of coaching experience at Orange Coast College, longtime head coach Chuck Cutense returns to the Pirates for his 26th season as women's indoor volleyball skipper.
Cutenese has helped keep the OCC volleyball program one of the elite programs in the state, guiding the Pirates to the playoffs for 15 straight seasons.
In 2012, Coast finished the regular season 18-2 overall, 10-2 and second place in the always-tough Orange Empire Conference and advanced to the second round of the Southern California Regional playoffs before losing to Pasadena City College in a five-set marathon.
The 2011 season saw the Pirates put forth another solid season by anyone’s standards as the Pirates finished 17-5 overall and advanced to the second round of the Southern California Regional Playoffs before falling to eventual champion L.A. Pierce in a five-game thriller. In 2010 was a near carbon-copy of 2010 as the Pirates wrapped up the season with a 16-6 and a berth in the second round of the playoffs before also falling to L.A. Pierce.
The state championship hardware continued to grow for Cutenese following the 2009 season, as he led the Pirates to their third title in five years, doing it the hard way – advancing all the way through the tourney through the loser’s bracket. Coast finished the year 26-3 overall and tied for first place in the Orange Empire Conference with Cypress.
The state championship tournament also was the site of another historical moment in Cutenese’s career as he picked up his 300th win as a women’s volleyball coach with a three-game sweep over rival Irvine Valley in the state semifinals on Dec. 6.
Perhaps just as impressive as his winning resume was in 2009, Cutenese also had all six of his sophomores transfer to four-year universities following their Coast career, a true testament to the phrase “student-athletes” here at OCC.
Following another successful 2008 regular season, Cutenese helped the Pirates peak at just the right time, advancing to the State Tournament following a four-game upset win over No. 1 seed L.A. Pierce in the Southern California Regional Finals. From there, Coast went deep into the tourney, finishing fourth in the state.
In 2006, Cutenese and the Pirates successfully defended their state title in 2005 by going 25-2 and winning the state crown once again. Following a couple of tough conference losses, the Pirates stormed through the competition in the playoffs, losing just five games in their six matches.
After a few near-misses, Cutenese and the Pirates not only reached the sport’s mountain top, they paved new trails along the way. The 2005 Pirates produced a perfect 26-0 record, won 73 straight games along the way and captured the school’s first state title in women’s volleyball since 1982. It was the first undefeated season in the team’s 29-year history.
Orange Coast was once again among the state’s elite despite falling to a second-round playoff loss to miss out on the state tournament in 2004. The Pirates also came up just short of the state tournament in 2003, dropping a heart-pounding five-game match to rival Irvine Valley in the regional finals. The 2002 season was another successful one for the Pirates, amassing a 21-5 overall record, a second place finish in the Orange Empire Conference and a third place finish at the state tournament. A 14-0 start to the season led to a state #1-ranking before suffering their first loss of the season. The season prior, the Pirates put together their best finish since the 1982 state championship team finished 26-4. The Bucs came up one win short of a fourth state championship for the program, finishing second at the state tournament with a record of 24-3 after going 13-1 to capture the Orange Empire Conference crown. Coast finished 18-7 in the 2000 season for a two-year total of 42-10, the best two-year stretch since 1981-82.
In 22 seasons as head coach, Cutenese has guided the Bucs to the 2001, 2005, 2006 and 2009 (tie) Orange Empire Conference titles as well as seven second-place finishes. The team advanced to the Southern California Regional Finals in 1994, 1997, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2009, winning state titles in 2005, 2006 and 2009.
Before taking over in 1992, Cutenese served as an assistant under Jane Hilgendorf with the women's program in 1990 and 1991. Prior to that, he coached at Davis Junior High School from 1985-89, at Costa Mesa High School from 1983-89 and at Foothill High School from 1989-93.
He was Hilgendorf's top assistant before assuming the head coaching position in 1992. The following spring, he took over the men's program.
A Costa Mesa resident since he was six years old, Cutenese began playing volleyball in the seventh grade and went on to become an all-league setter at Costa Mesa High from 1980-83.
He began his college career at Chapman College in 1986, then transferred to Coast in 1987 to play for Bob Wetzel. That season, he helped dish up the first of five state titles in an eight-year span and won all-state honors.
He completed his collegiate career at the University of LaVerne in 1989, where he set the school's single-season assist record. The record was later broken by Matt Wright, who played at Coast under Cutenese. He went on to earn a master's degree in physical education from Azusa Pacific University.
In 2015, Cutenese led OCC's first-ever sand volleyball program and helped the Pirates reach the second round of the Southern California Regional playoffs. Coast had two teams -- Danielle Boyette/Sierra Brown and Lahua Alama-Jordan/Danyelle Brown reach the state quarterfinals and with the interest of the sport growing day by day, look for Cutenese and the Pirates to continue their impressive run in this newly-sanctioned sport.