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OCC falls in state final

Men's Volleyball

Pirates, trying for their first state title since '94, claw black but lose in four to Long Beach City College.

April 21, 2012|By Matt Szabo
  • Orange Coast College's Victor Schaefer, left, and Dillon Emery react to losing to Long Beach City College in the state championship match Saturday.
Orange Coast College's Victor Schaefer, left,… (SCOTT SMELTZER,…)

LONG BEACH — Five match points saved, and the home crowd at Long Beach City College got very concerned.

The Orange Coast College men's volleyball team came so close to forcing a deciding fifth set Saturday night in the California Community College Athletic Assn. men's volleyball state championship match. A 24-19 fourth-set deficit suddenly became 24-24, and the Pirates were pumped.

Long Beach, the No. 1-ranked team in the state poll all season, did not panic. An OCC shot wide gave the Vikings their sixth match point, and they capitalized.

Long Beach sophomore Aniefre Etim-Thomas, the young man on fire to start the match, came up with his ninth and biggest block. Pandemonium ensued.

Second-seeded OCC had just been denied once again in a state championship match as top-seeded LBCC earned the title in four hard-fought sets, 25-22, 23-25, 25-22, 26-24.

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Orange Coast (15-5), the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference champion and the hottest team in the state coming into the match, picked a brutal time for its 11-match winning streak to come to a sudden end. The Pirates came up a match short in their bid for the program's sixth state title, and first since 1994.

"It's tough for the kids," OCC Coach Travis Turner said. "You know, I think if we had a few more weeks in the season, we probably would have won that match. But we didn't."

Freshman opposite Dillon Emery and sophomore outside Chris Van Vuuren each earned all-tournament team honors for OCC. Emery, the state leader in kills, added a match-high 30 of them on Saturday night.

"He was a frickin' horse," Turner said of Emery. "He was an absolute horse. He almost got us there. All year long, though, these guys have been a team. These guys have worked harder than any team I've ever had. They just busted their [behinds] all year. They did everything they could, to get to where we are today. I think these guys have learned a lot about life and became men this year, and that's more important than winning this match."

Emery's fellow Fountain Valley High alumnus, Van Vuuren, added 10 kills, but LBCC limited him to a -.030 hitting percentage.

Long Beach co-coach Matt Silva said his Vikings (17-2), the Western State Conference champions, tried to limit Emery and Van Vuuren. Silva found offense in the first set from his 6-foot-3 middle blocker Etim-Thomas, who had six kills on six attacks in the set and added two blocks and a service ace as LBCC grabbed the early lead.

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