Fullerton was swept by Irvine Valley College 3-0 (15-25, 22-25, 20-25) at home in their first conference game of the season.
The Hornets came out in the first set bursting with energy. However, this uncontrollable energy led to hits and servers flying out of bounds.
“We were pretty excited to start in conference,” Fullerton head coach Eddie Rapp stated.
Irvine Valley scored four points from Hornet balls that were hit out of bounds, giving them an early 9-2 lead. The Lasers continued to capitalize from Fullerton’s missed opportunities as their lead grew to 13-2.
From there, the Hornets took a timeout and began their rally to score points. The Hornets chipped away at the Lasers lead with kills from sophomore outside hitter Garrett Geiger and middle blocker Farooq Gibani.
Geiger is the only returning player from last season and said he enjoys his new role.
“It allows me to be the older guy and to lead and help these younger guys,” Geiger said.
Fullerton was able to cut the lead down to of nine points bringing the score to 13-22. Unfortunately, Irvine was able to break away once again and scored the winning point with a kill to an unguarded area of Fullerton’s court to end the first set at 15-25.
“We need to get out of our own way,” coach Rapp said.
In the second set, the Hornets began to settle in as they battled the Lasers for the lead during most of the second and third sets.
Fullerton outside hitter Asontae Lewis-Owens was able to control his energy and score points to regain the lead for the Hornets. They were leading 13-12 after a kill that left Irvine scrambling to the line.
A repeat of the earlier mistakes for the Hornets would haunt them again, as they sent balls past the line and allowed the Lasers to take a 14-17 lead. As a result, Fullerton was forced to call a timeout.
Coming back into the game, the Hornets continued the battle to close the gap between the scores. Freshman opposite hitter Miguel Cortez and Gibani both made successful blocks to edge Fullerton closer toward the Laser by making it an 18-20 score.
Yet, Fullerton was unable to take the lead over Irvine and eventually lost the second set by three points, 22-25.
“We’re trying to match our opponent and we just need to stay focused on our side of the court,” coach Rapp added.
In the final set of the night, both teams again went lead back and forth with the lead.
Fullerton was the first to gain momentum by breaking away with three points.
A successful block from middle blocker Nick Owens and Lewis-Owens gave Fullerton a 15-12 lead that shook the Lasers and made them call a timeout.
Coming out of the timeout, the Lasers scored five points that included a net contact and double touch calls on Fullerton.
“…work on minimizing our unforced errors,” Geiger said.
The Lasers continued to extend their lead again over Fullerton to eventually win the final set by five points, 20-25.
“…looking forward to that next set and getting back to what we know to do,” coach Rapp said.
Up next: the Hornets look to end their losing streak as they travel for an away game against Golden West on Wednesday, March 20 at 6 p.m.