The Hornet volleyball team lost to top-seeded Irvine Valley College in round two of the SoCal regional playoffs Saturday night. The Lasers cruised onto the next round, winning the three sets 25-14, 25-13 and 25-12 to keep their undefeated season alive.
For the Hornets, it was the third loss this year at the hands of the Lasers. The Hornets finished the regular season with a 16-5 record with all of the team’s losses coming in conference play. They finished in fourth place in the Orange Empire Conference and entered the regional playoffs as an eight seed.
After winning a first round matchup against Pierce College in 5 sets, Fullerton College headed to Irvine hoping to prove to the Lasers that they were every bit as good as them. The first two sets were nearly identical, however, with the Lasers jumping out to an early lead, the Hornets fighting back to make it close but the Lasers riding the lead to an easy victory.
In the third set, the Hornets battled the Lasers to an early 4-4 tie and were looking like they would not go away easily. However, the Lasers grabbed eight of the next 10 points and the Hornets began pulling some of their starters.
“Our game plan was to get out there and really challenge them,” said Eddie Rapp, Fullerton head coach. “IVC played really well, they are playing the best volleyball right now in the state.”
The Hornets were under fire all night long as the Lasers landed a whopping 44 kills against them. The IVC duo of Annie Mitchem and Alexis Radecki managed to land more kills (28) than the entire Hornet team (21). At 6’2” Mitchem was seemingly able to rise above the net and find the empty spaces on the floor to send the ball.
“Our ball control was good and obviously having Annie [Mitchem] in the middle makes things a lot easier,” said Tom Pestolesi, head coach of the Lasers. “Fullerton usually serves real, real tough and they get us in a lot of trouble but for whatever reason they didn’t do that tonight.”
The Hornets were led by libero Celeste Snider, with 21 of the team’s 59 total digs.
“Our captain Celeste Snider, she’s a quality person and great player,” said Rapp. “She just improved in a huge way and really believed in our system.”
Snider is one of three sophomores on the team that will not be eligible to return next year. It was also the last game for Elena Mendrin and Shawnna Chung.
On the offensive attack, the Hornets were led by Caroline Corp and Briana Cervantes who both had 5 kills. But if you listen to the players, it was not offense or defense that did the Hornets in, but a lack of confidence and belief in the team.
“I think the pressure really got to us,” said Hornet Madalene Barrett. “The pressure of being beat by them twice. Wanting to knock them off their undefeated season. “
For the Hornets, they plan to bring back a majority of the team next year and hope the experience gained will carry them past what is considered by many to be the best conference in the state.
“We grew together as friends and family this season and I think we need to spend more time on confidence building,” said freshman Caroline Corp. “We had a great season and I am so excited to play with them next year.”