Men's Volleyball Heating Things Up

With three opponents left to close out the Orange Empire Conference competition, the Corsairs raised their record to 4-1 last week as they elevated their game and easily prevailed in the two scheduled matches.

In Wednesday's home meeting against the Irvine Valley College Lasers, SMC minimized errors experienced in some recent play as they won handily 25-10, 25-21, 25-23.

The Corsairs dispatched the Lasers so quickly that late-arriving spectators found team members already returning to their cars to go home.

"We had a great match," said Head Coach Mark Lee. "We passed and served well, plus setter Kupono Nu'uhiwa, a.k.a. 'Pono,' did a fantastic job distributing the ball. He put the ball in just the right place for our hitters to spike."

Peak performances were found in the dominant play of both outside hitter Dragan Ivanovic with16 kills, five blocks, four service aces, and multi-position player Derek Otte with 15 kills and seven digs.

Setter Collin Kiely with five digs and dead-on serving, outside/opposite hitter David Diaz with four blocks and setter Pono with 41 assists all delivered the goods.

Not to be overlooked was the play of middle blockers Brian Schirripa and Victor Guillen who, Lee said, "did an excellent job of faking out Irvine's middle blockers."

"We are playing more as a team," said Lee. "The squad is starting to understand the importance of communication."

Next up was Friday night's win against the Golden State College Rustlers with a final tally of 25-22, 14-25, 25-23, 25-16. The Corsairs came out strong but experienced a problem that continues to elude a solution. "We should have won that game by a lot more," said Otte. "But once again we let them run up points."

In game two Lee changed his rotation. But his squad's chemistry just wasn't there as the Rustlers got back into the match with effective serving and cohesive play. Returning their same unit to the floor that started the match, the Corsairs quickly got back on track in game three.

Displaying more confidence and on-court poise, SMC took over the rest of the way with overall strong play. Otte, the team's most powerful hitter, had another stellar performance with 17 kills, six blocks and five digs. Ivanovic and Schirripa were each very effective with 14 and 13 kills.

Diaz may have had his best match thus far with some outstanding serving and five digs. Pono, who last year played for Golden West but transferred to play for SMC this season, had his usual high quality game with 40 assists. "The fact is, we are a confidence team," said team captain Schirripa. "If we get our serves in, we're unstoppable." Ivanovic said, "We can take the championship if we keep playing like this."

Despite the team's winning record and entertaining play, the games remain sparsely attended thus far. And of those in the stands for the Corsairs, most are family or friends. Otte's and Schirripa's family are regular fixtures at home games. Luzanne Otte, Otte's sister, clearly is a player in her own right. Regarding her younger brother's play, she said, "I taught him everything he knows."