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Pirates recapture focus

Men's Volleyball

OCC bounces back from loss Wednesday to sweep visiting Irvine Valley in conference match.

March 11, 2011|By Barry Faulkner, barry.faulkner@latimes.com

COSTA MESA — The Orange Coast College men's volleyball team won impressively Friday night, sweeping visiting Irvine Valley, 25-23, 25-22, 25-20, in a Pacific Coast Conference match.

But duly humbled by Wednesday's four-game home loss to conference rival Grossmont, OCC Coach Travis Turner expects the Pirates to be anything but impressed.

"We were motivated tonight, which we haven't been since [a Feb. 11 home win over perennial state powerhouse Long Beach]," Turner said. "We kind of thought we were pretty good after that [Long Beach] match and we stopped training and we stopped playing hard. But tonight, I thought it was the same team that played against Long Beach."

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Freshman middle blocker McKay Smith, who had six kills and five blocks, including three straight solo stuffs in the third game to turn a 16-15 lead into a four-point cushion, said the Grossmont match helped spur the motivation needed for Friday … and beyond.

"It was a great eye-opener for us," said the 6-foot-6 Smith, a former defensive lineman for the Dana Hills High football team, whose intensity is well-known among the Pirates. "After we beat Long Beach real nice, we kind of just let up, which we can't ever do. [The loss to Grossmont] was a real wake-up call for us. It just kind of let us know that nothing is going to be easy. Everyone is going to come after us every night. We need to work harder and get better at a lot of things. I think we made a step in the right direction tonight."

Sophomore opposite Troy Tomasello led the winners (8-2, 3-1 in conference) with nine kills. Chris Pratt, a freshman middle blocker, had eight and Jeff Patton, a sophomore outside hitter added seven.

Richard De St. Jean, a sophomore middle out of Newport Harbor High, had five kills and six blocks, while sophomore setter James Anderson had 31 assists.

Turner also praised the play of freshman libero Danny Baker, a Corona del Mar High product who had seven digs.

"Liberos don't get enough attention, but he has been super solid all year," Turner said of Baker. "There's no flash there, but I thought he did a great job."

OCC did not trail in the opening game, but rallied from a 7-1 deficit in Game 2. The Pirates pulled even, 11-11, but the Lasers (6-3, 2-1) earned a 15-13 lead. OCC, however, scored six straight points to take the lead and, after IVC pulled even again at 23-23, closed it out with a net violation and a Patton kill.

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