The Irvine Valley women's volleyball team stumbled two weeks ago with its first loss of the season.
But that defeat is forgotten now.
The Lasers are headed back to the California Community College Athletic Association State Championships at Solano College in Fairfield after sweeping Ventura in the second round of the So. Cal. Regional Playoffs at home on Saturday night.
Irvine Valley, which has been ranked No. 1 in the state all season, was the top seed in the South Region all season and is the defending state champion, defeated No. 9 Ventura, 25-16, 25-18, 26-24, to advance.
It was the Lasers' 17th sweep of the season. IVC has lost just six sets all year.
Irvine Valley improved its record to 20-1 overall on the year. Ventura had its season end with a record of 18-5 overall.
"We have just had so many points during the year where a different kid has stepped up for us," Irvine Valley Coach Tom Pestolesi said. "Jack (Jacqueline Wolfe) got us going in sets one and two. Kylie (Miller) came off the bench and did a great job for us. Lea (Kruse) and Alyssa (Vortouni) were solid as usual and Renata (Bath) did her thing with her ball control.
"Alaina (Gendale) got hot and got on a run for us and (setter) Truth (Hafey) did just what we needed. I am so proud of all of them. That is the beauty of our team and the balance we have. You don't know who it is going to be on what night. Not relying on one person has been our biggest strength.
"That and the contributions that we get from all of our coaches. Ryan (Windisch) and Mike (Cram) and Lauren (Hess) and Naki (Gary Nakamura) and Cole (Murray) and Hannah (Matt). They have all contributed to our success so much."
Gendale and Vortouni paced Irvine Valley with 11 kills each. Kruse had 10 kills and Wolfe finished with eight kills. Miller had two kills and three block assists. Vortouni had 15 digs, which was a season high and also chipped in two aces.
Bath ended with 12 digs, Kruse had 10 digs, Gendale added seven digs and Hafey had 39 assists and six digs in the win for Irvine Valley.
It was tight early with the first set tied, 14-14, before Irvine Valley went on a 4-0 run to take control.
A kill by Kruse gave Irvine Valley set point at 24-16 and on the next point Wolfe finished the set on a kill off the block on a slide play.
IVC jumped out to a 7-3 lead in the second set and never looked back.
A kill by Wolfe gave the Lasers a 18-12 advantage. The Pirates never got closer than three points the rest of the way. A block by Kruse and Wolfe put Irvine Valley up, 22-18. And a kill by Wolfe made it 23-18.
Two straight net calls by Ventura ended the set.
Ventura didn't go away in the third set. The Pirates led, 19-17, in the third set after a kill by Janessa Simental.
And the Pirates took a 21-18 lead after a Laser hitting error.
But Irvine Valley turned things around from there. IVC went on a deciding 5-0 run. It started with a tip winner by Miller. Ventura hit out to make it 21-10 and two points later a Gendale kill gave Irvine Valley the lead for good, 22-21, in the set.
Vortouni and Miller then had a block for a point to make it 23-21.
IVC still had to fight down the stretch for the win. Ventura tied the score at 24-24 on an ace by Kelly Rodriguez. But Gendale came back with a kill to give Irvine Valley match point and then a kill by Kruse finished the match.
Irvine Valley, which went 27-0 and won the program's second state title in 2017, will be back at it next week. The Lasers head to Solano College in Fairfield. The state championships are Nov. 30 and Dec. 1-2. The event will be broadcast live with live stats also posted. More information can be viewed on the cccaasports.org site here