(WOODLAND HILLS, CA)--The third meeting of Western State Conference South Division foes Long Beach City College and El Camino turned into a stunning sweep by the seventh-seeded Warriors as they advanced to the CCCAA State Championship finals, 26-24, 25-17, 25-19, Thursday night at Pierce College.
El Camino (12-7), a team that lost both of its conference matches v. the WSC South champion Vikings, had the No. 3 seed's number in the state semifinals. Cesar Medina pounded 17 kills while teammate PJ Tulikihihofo scored 11 kills (hit .391) with two aces.
Defending state champion Long Beach (16-4) had its 13-match winning streak snapped despite 12 kills by Cyrus Fa'alogo.
In the opening set, one of five blocks overall by Victor Villarreal gave El Camino a 24-23 lead after LBCC let a 16-11 lead slip away. A kill by Medina and a Vikings' error gave ECC the 1-0 sets lead.
In the second set, El Camino jumped ahead 22-14 and didn't look back for an 8-point win. The Warriors were exceptional on the attack in the game, hitting .516 (18-for-31, two errors), with Campos and Tulikihihofo each recording five kills.
In the third set, again it was the Warriors dictating the play, frustrating Long Beach in controlling the block and riding the hot hitting of Medina. The sophomore outside hitter's seventh kill of the set finished things for match point.
"It's been very hard for teams to repeat as state champions the last few years, and we're glad to be part of the process to keep that going," said a pleased El Camino head coach Dick Blount. "We were ranked No. 4 in the state poll but we got hosed by the new playoff format. We came at Long Beach the same way we did against Irvine Valley (quarterfinals win). We were able to neutralize a really good player in Cyrus, doing a better job against him than the first two times we played them."
El Camino combined for 10 team blocks and hit .297 overall compared to Long Beach's .159.
Still looking for the college's first state title in men's volleyball, El Camino advances to its fourth state finals match after being runner-up in 1979, 1983, and 2015.