In their first ever playoff game, the Hornets came up short all 3 sets (9-25, 19-25, 21-25) to the Long Beach Vikings on April 21 hosted at Long Beach City College’s Hall of Champions Gymnasium.
Despite the loss, the Hornets make history as the first Men’s volleyball team to make it to the Orange Empire Conference playoffs.
“Unfortunately, we were not on top of our game tonight. We did well all season and competed, but tonight we didn’t find our rhythm,” said coach Eddie Rapp. “But to get to this position and give ourselves an opportunity to go further in the state as being our first year, we’re doing some great things.”
Overall the Hornets are (12-9) whereas the Vikings are (16-3) in conference play.
Throughout the first set of the match, both teams displayed a desire to win the first game of the playoffs.
Cheers intensified in the Viking fans section as the first set ended with a win of 9-25 for the third-seeded team. But the Hornets weren’t dismayed entering the second set.
Coming back from the game break between the first and second sets, the squeak of sneakers resonated through the gym floor. Ready to begin the second set, the Vikings continued to play with determination.
“Coming to their territory is tough trying to do what we do best, so it was a difficult match,” said Rapp about the team’s first away playoff match.
During the second set, the Hornets struggled to overcome the Vikings intense play both offensively and defensively. With seven points on the board against Fullerton, Coach Eddie Rapp called a timeout which paid off for the junior team.
The timeout was a success when the Hornets came back to put points up on the board and close their 7 point gap with a kill by freshman middle blocker Kyle Young and a service ace to make the score 2-7.
Unfortunately, the Vikings came back with 2 kills to make the score 2-9, however, this did not extinguish the Hornets enthusiasm.
Their determination picked up when back-to-back points were made which quickly made the set a one-point game.
Kills were a plenty which excited the anxious crowd when an attack error was made by the Vikings freshman opposite hitter Steven Rotter to make the second set tied 14-14.
With both teams looking to take the second set win, the Vikings quickly regained their strategy and effortlessly took the lead ending the set 19-25.
Going into the third set, the Hornets started off strong with a point from a kill by Young from sophomore setter Dale Irvin making the score 1-0, yet the Vikings responded immediately, making the game a back and forth point by point lead.
The set quickly became more lackluster for the Hornets when the Vikings took the lead by five consecutive points, yet the Hornets were still determined to keep the momentum going. Diving for every spike and moving swiftly through the gym floor.
The Hornets continued to fight back and at the end of the set, they played with enthusiasm which made them a competitor with a score of 20-23.
Their energy, however, wasn’t enough to bring the Hornets back despite their best efforts against the highly seeded Vikings, ending the set and their season with a score of 21-25.
Rapp ended on a solid note and said, “We were competing against the defending state champs and we needed to be better.”