Pirates to take on Feather River, SD Mesa in State Championship pool play

Pirates to take on Feather River, SD Mesa in State Championship pool play

COSTA MESA -- The Orange Coast College beach volleyball team will take on San Diego Mesa and Feather River in pool-play competition at Thursday's California Community College Athletic Association State Beach Volleyball Team Championships, hosted by Irvine Valley College.

The south's top-seeded Pirates (16-0) will kick things off at 9 a.m. against south No. 4 Mesa (18-3). Then, at 1 p.m., OCC will take on north No. 2, Feather River (15-4). Meanwhile, in Pool B, it will be an all-out battle royale with north No. 1 Cabrillo (21-1), south No. 2 and event host Irvine Valley (15-10, but only one loss vs. two-year programs) and south No. 3 El Camino (22-3) fighting it out in their own pool-play events throughout Thursday. The winner of each pool will play for the state team title at 4:30 p.m.

"I think it's good that we don't know anything about San Diego Mesa or Feather River," OCC head coach Chuck Cutenese said. "Sometimes it's good going into a match and not knowing your opponent and just focusing on playing volleyball."

After a couple of losses early, the Olympians have been on fire, winners of 16-of-17 heading into Thursday's matchup with the unbeaten Pirates. Mesa defeated Mt. San Antonio and Cypress in last week's SoCal Regional to earn the spot in the State Top 6. 

As for Feather River, the Golden Eagles are one of the top teams in Northern California, where the sport of beach volleyball is still continuing to grow. Only a pair of losses to top-seeded Cabrillo and two losses to Sierra College are the lone missteps on Feather River's resume. The Golden Eagles hosted last week's Northern California Regional for the first time in team history and advanced to the Final Six with wins over Fresno City College (4-1) and West Valley (4-1).

For the Pirates, it's has been a perfect 16 up and 16 down with impressive wins over Ventura College (5-0) and Santa Barbara City College (3-2) in last week's regional matchups. 

On a day where OCC could be facing THREE top opponents in one, long day of competition, Cutenese will have to use all six pairings throughout the day to preserve as much gas in the team's tank as possible. In addition to their top pairs of Rachel Blair/Brisa Zapata-Reaves, Alanna Shields/Sophia Sola, Summer Hanks/Sara Enright, Lexy Mendoza/Paige Cutwright and Izzy Duchaine/Emily Payne, OCC's Rachel Street/Jadyn Pope will also take to the courts on Thursday, giving the Pirate head coach some options down the lineup.

"I'm not sure who will play as the 5's ... I'll use both but don't know who I'll start with," Cutenese said. "I'll get a feel for which team should start after this week's practices and go from there."

If the Pirates climb the top of the mountain on Thursday, it will be the first team beach volleyball title in school history. It would be the school's 97th state title in school history and third state title over the span of 19 days, with men's volleyball capturing state on April 23 and women's swimming winning state on Saturday.

Beach Volleyball Team State Championship Schedule ...

9:00 – Orange Coast vs San Diego Mesa
10:00 – Cabrillo vs. El Camino
11:00 – Feather River vs. San Diego Mesa
12:00 – Irvine Valley vs. El Camino
1:00 – Orange Coast vs. Feather River
2:00 – Cabrillo vs. Irvine Valley
4:30 – Pool A winner vs. Pool B winner