By Robert Lewis,
Pasadena City College Sports Information
WOODLAND HILLS, Calif. - This year’s CCCAA State Men’s Volleyball Championships features the last three state champions in Long Beach City College (2016), Santa Monica (2015) and Orange Coast (2014) along with a wildcard in El Camino, a school that has never won the championship. The final four battle for the title starts on Thursday with the state semifinals at Pierce College at 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. The championship match will be on Saturday, April 29 at 7 p.m.
Both Thursday's and Friday's matches can be watched live online at www.socalcollegesports.com.
The Western State Conference South Division dominates the field with three of the league’s four teams all making it to the semifinals in champion LBCC (16‐3), second place El Camino (11‐7) and third place SMC (14‐5). State No. 1‐ranked and Orange Empire Conference champ Orange Coast (19‐1) hopes to make it through the WSC South maze.
Defending state champ and third seed Long Beach faces No. 7 seed El Camino, an upset winner over No. 2 Irvine Valley in the quarterfinals. The 5 p.m. Thursday semifinals match will be the third meeting of the season between the conference foes as the Vikings won the two previous encounters, winning in four sets on April 14 and needing five sets in their initial match on Mar. 31.
Long Beach is riding a 13‐match win streak, led by state kills leader Cyrus Fa’alogo, who is averaging 5.14 kills per set. The sophomore outside hitter scored 18 kills (hit .600) and served three aces in the Vikings sweep over No. 6 Fullerton in the quarterfinals on April 21.
Cesar Medina led El Camino with 24 kills and Pedro Campos set 60 assists that propelled the Warriors to their 4‐set road triumph over Irvine Valley in the quarterfinals. While El Camino comes in as an underdog, it was rated as high as No. 4 in the state poll before it received its seventh seed for the playoffs.
The second semifinals matchup (7:30 p.m. Thursday) continues what has turned into a state rivalry between Orange Coast, a team on an 18‐match win streak, and Santa Monica, the only team to hand the Pirates a defeat in the second match of the regular season in four sets. This is the third year in a row that the two programs meet in the semifinals.
Last year, Orange Coast defeated SMC in four sets. Two years ago, the Corsairs beat OCC in the semifinals on their way to that college’s first state title. In 2014, the Pirates won a 5‐set thriller over Santa Monica in the finals to capture the CCCAA crown.
In last Friday’s state quarterfinals, OCC defeated No. 8 seed Grossmont in four sets while SMC outlasted No. 5 Pierce in five sets. Orange Coast was paced by a combined 40 kills from OEC MVP Jordan Hoppe (22) and Justin Kam (18). In Santa Monica’s victory, Andrew Dalmada delivered 17 kills and three solo blocks while setter Hunter Douglas dished out 54 assists.
Orange Coast is making its ninth appearance at the state tournament in the past 10 years. Long Beach has the most state championships of the final four participants with nine.
If Orange Coast and Long Beach win on Thursday, it would set up a rematch of last year’s state championship won by the Vikings in four sets.