In leading up to the official start of the 2019-20 athletics campaign at Irvine Valley, which began on Aug. 27 with the IVC men's soccer team hosting Rio Hondo and the Laser women's soccer team playing at San Diego Mesa, the Irvine Valley athletic department has been counting down the top 10 sports stories from the 2018-19 school year.
The No. 1 story on the list is season turned in by the women's beach volleyball team. The squad was named Irvine Valley's team of the year as part of the athletic department's 19th Annual Awards. The Lasers finished tied for third at the CCAA State Championship in May, went 15-1 against community college opponents on the year and won the Orange Empire Conference with a record of 10-0. The squad's top pairs team of Renata Bath and Lea Kruse also finished third individually at the state event.
The Irvine Valley women's volleyball team, which was ranked No. 3 in the state in the final American Volleyball Coaches Association Poll of the 2019 season, was named the team of the year as part of the athletic department's 19th Annual Awards.
The Lasers finished tied for third at the California Community College Athletic Association State Championship in May at the Elite Athlete Training Center in Chula Vista.
Irvine Valley ended the year with a record of 17-8 overall and won the Orange Empire Conference with a mark of 10-0 under coach Tom Pestolesi.
IVC ended up going 15-1 against community college opponents.
That one defeat came at the hands of Long Beach City, which beat Irvine Valley and moved on from pool play at the state championship in Chula Vista.
Irvine Valley also had four pairs reach the state championship - sophomore Renata Bath and freshman Lea Kruse, freshmen Anna Unke and Gabriela Griego, sophomores Alyssa Vortouni and Emilie Austin and freshmen Aliaina Gendale and Kendall Nolan reached the state event.
Bath and Kruse and Unke and Griego each made the final day on Saturday of the two-day pairs tournament.
And Bath and Kruse battled and ended up finishing tied for third overall.
Bath and Kruse fought their way out of pool play through a tiebreaker and as the second-place team from their pool to get to bracket play on Saturday.
The duo was on top of its game from the start once the final rounds started.
Starting in the round of 16 on Saturday, Bath and Kruse defeated IVC Unke and Griego, 21-16, 21-18, in the round of 16. Unke and Griego went undefeated and won their pool on Friday afternoon.
Bath and Kruse then beat the Feather River team of Aurora Carnes and Mere Nagase, 21-15, 22-20, in the quarterfinals of the tourney.
The duo took on the top team from Northern California in a semifinal. Bath and Kruse captured the first set over West Valley's Kaylin Henderson and Mapuhalo Nekona, 21-19, but dropped the final two sets, 21-15 and 15-13.
Bath, who signed to continue her career at UC Riverside, finished her college career at Irvine Valley having reached two state team beach championships as well as two pairs state events. She paired with former IVC standout Olivia Aguilar in 2018.
Two days earlier in the team competition at the state championship in Chula Vista, IVC started with an impressive 4-1 win over the top team from Northern California, Sierra, in its first match.
The Lasers received wins from its pairs of Bath and Kruse, Unke and Griego, Vortouni and Austin and freshmen Alison Kent and Alaina Thomas. Bath and Kruse fought to win, 15-6, in the third set.
Irvine Valley took on second-seeded Long Beach in its next pool play match with a trip to the state tournament on the line.
IVC had its chances, but came up short in a couple of contests and lost, 4-1. Three of the matches went to three sets.
Irvine Valley's top team of Bath and Kruse defeated Jessica Blakeman and Kylee Irwin-Paz from Long Beach City, 21-15, 22-20, for the lone win.
Other highlights for the team included Vortouni, Austin, Bath and Kruse being named the OEC's players of the year and the team receiving an AVCA academic achievement award.