In leading up to the start of the 2017-18 athletics campaign at Irvine Valley, which starts on Aug. 25 with the men's soccer team hosting Rio Hondo and the women's volleyball team hosting Citrus, the Laser athletic department will count down the top 10 IVC sports stories from the 2016-17 school year.
The No. 7 story on the list was Irvine Valley's turnaround in men's volleyball. With the return of head coach Tom Pestolesi from sabbatical and a strong squad, the Lasers were ranked No. 1 in the nation for part of the season, took second in the Orange Empire Conference and made the CCCAA State Championships Tournament.
Irvine Valley won 11 straight matches at one point during the season. The Lasers were ranked in the top three in the state during the entire regular season. They were ranked No. 1 in the state for seven straight weeks.
The Lasers, seeded second in the playoffs, fell to No. 7 El Camino, in the quarterfinals, 25-22, 27-25, 25-21, 25-17 in late April.
"They were just better than us tonight," Pestolesi said of El Camino. "I'm still proud of our guys. They have been awesome this year and I loved coaching them. It was a great group."
Irvine Valley hit a fine .337 as a team in the match, but El Camino was just better on the night. Sophomore outside hitter Ruben Lopez led the way with 18 kills for the Lasers. He hit .444 and added five digs.
Freshman outside hitter Patrick Furlong had 15 kills and eight digs, freshman middle blocker Matt August finished with 10 kills and seven blocks and hit .500. Sophomore libero Josh Evers ended with 14 digs and freshman setter Austing McBain had 46 assists for IVC.
Irvine Valley ended with a record of 15-4 overall.
The match was the final one as Lasers for sophomores Cody Hermanson, Evers and Lopez.
Irvine Valley had five players named to all-conference teams as part of the inaugural Orange Empire Conference Men's Volleyball Awards.
IVC had two first-team and three second-team honorees.
August and Mccain were each picked to the first team.
Through the end of the regular season, August averaged 3.03 kills, hit at a .411 percentage, which led the state, and also ranked second in the state in blocks at 1.33 per set.
McBain was first in the conference and second in the state in assists at 10.57 per set.
Lopez, Furlong and freshman outside hitter Brennan To were selected as second-team selections.
Lopez averaged 2.64 kills per set, Furlong averaged 2.35 kills and To averaged 2.25 kills per set for the Lasers through the end of the regular season.