Orange Coast 19th straight win sets up State Final

Orange Coast's Matt Ujkic guys up high to knock down a kill in the state semifinals win over Santa Monica Thursday night, photo by Richard Quinton.
Orange Coast's Matt Ujkic guys up high to knock down a kill in the state semifinals win over Santa Monica Thursday night, photo by Richard Quinton.

(WOODLAND HILLS, CA)--Top seed Orange Coast College exacted revenge on the only team it lost to this season, sweeping Santa Monica, 25-22, 25-14, 28-26, in the CCCAA State men's volleyball semifinals Thursday night at Pierce College. It was the Pirates' 19th straight victory and allows OCC to advance to its 17th state final in its history.

Orange Coast (20-1) was state runner-up last year and will try to win its seventh state crown Saturday when it faces No. 7 seed El Camino, a winner over defending state champ Long Beach earlier in the other semifinal.

The Pirates spread their offense with three players scoring in double figures in kills led by Matt Ujkic with 13 (.429), Justin Kam with 12 (hit .618 with one error) and Orange Empire Conference MVP Jordan Hoppe with 10. SMC (14-6) saw its season end with only Vecas Lewin reaching double digits on 10 kills plus three solo blocks. Andrew Dalmada added eight kills and Dane Pieper seven. 

"I think one of the differences from the first time we faced them was that we are competing better now," said Orange Coast head coach Travis Turner. "We learned from that loss that you can't just think you can cruise through a match. Tonight, we passed well, we spread our offense, and we were consistent. We were aggressive on our serve to help disrupt their middle. Ujkic was huge and played well all match."

OCC's attack was efficient especially in the first two sets when the Pirates made just six errors and hit .408 compared to Santa Monica's .067 and 16 attack mistakes. 

In the third set, SMC tried to keep things going as the teams produced 15 ties, sending the game into extra points. Max Ball's kill tied it at 25-25. After both teams traded serving errors, Hoppe powered a kill for a 27-26 OCC lead. Kam then slammed home match point.

Orange Coast, which has 13 sweeps in its winning streak, will face El Camino for the first time in a state final. OCC defeated El Camino in the 2017 season opener in four sets, 25-16, 25-19, 21-25, 25-21.


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