Men's volleyball loses state championship

The Santa Monica College men’s volleyball team was narrowly defeated last Friday night by the Orange Coast College Pirates, as the Pirates won the deciding fifth and final set of the California Community College Athletic Association State Championship at Santiago Canyon College.

The Corsairs started the match by losing the first two sets, putting them in the difficult position of winning three straight sets if they had any hopes of a comeback victory.

Despite the imposing combo of SMC All-Tournament standouts Taylor Tattersall and Keats Stanley, OCC proved too much for the Corsairs winning 15-10 in the shortened fifth set.

“I felt pretty good going into the fifth set. They made a flip with their lineups, which was a good move by them. We had different matchups,” said SMC Head Coach John Mayer. “It’s such a short game, and it’s a game of runs. Maybe if we go to 25, we get our run back. But Orange Coast is a consistent team, you have to earn it to beat them.”

As soon as the match started, it was evident that the Corsairs would have their work cut out for them, with the majority of the crowd rooting for OCC. With the game being played in Orange County, this came as no surprise.

That didn’t stop the SMC cheering section comprised of SMC basketball players, women’s volleyball team members, and others, from rooting on their home team.

“If those guys don’t show up, we might lose in three. It plays a role, it helped us out," said Mayer. "Our guys probably needed them at times, it was awesome."

Despite the loss, Stanley and Tattersall’s impressions on the season were still felt league wide. Stanley was second in the conference in kills per set, and Tattersall finished first in kills and third in kills per set.

“We had two guys who were two of the best players so that helps. But we had some really mature hard working people,” said Mayer. “Our setter Kasey Dunn, he works his butt off and that’s infectious and it rubs off on everybody. He was our captain, and I think he led us in the way we worked.”

During the game, the two teams were having fun trash talking under the net, but as Stanley put it, “There’s always a little trash talking, but it’s all love afterwards.”

After a couple of abysmal seasons recently, it came as a surprise and a victory in itself for the Corsairs to make a playoff run as deep as they did. But asking any of the players, they had an idea something like this was always possible.

“We had a goal set to become a tribe, and I think that’s what we did in the final game. We came back from 1-10 last year, and to get to the finals is a big improvement.” said Tattersall.

With such a dramatic improvement in such a short span of time, there are many reasons for the team’s quick turn around. According to the players, it begins and ends with coaching.

“I have to give everything to our coaches,” said Stanley. “They have the ability to slow our minds down and slow the game down for us and just remind us that we’re here for a reason.”

It’s easy to lose a championship game, and look back with regret. It’s also a true mark of character to have just suffered a crushing loss, but still have nothing but admiration for your players and staff.

“I’m so proud, what an amazing season for us," said Mayer. "You judge yourself not on wins and losses, but by how hard you go in practice and how hard you play in matches. They came in to practice saying what can I get better at.”