Ventura finds the big points, tops OCC in four

Ventura finds the big points, tops OCC in four

COSTA MESA -- In a matchup between two of the top teams in all of California community college women's volleyball, the Orange Coast College Pirates took on their toughest competition of the season and held their own, but came up short in a four-set loss to visiting Ventura College on Wednesday night inside the Peterson Gym.

In a match that could have ended in a four-set win for the HOST Pirates, it was the big, right arm of VC outside hitter, Kayla Murdoch that did the most damage as she ripped 33 kills to lead Ventura (6-0) to a 22-25, 25-17, 28-26, 25-23 road win, handing OCC its first loss of the season (3-1).

With OCC focused on trying to stop the 6'2 Murdoch, Ventura's "Plan B" option, Nevada Knowles was just as effective with her opportunities, ripping 14 kills of her own.

For the host Pirates, Brisa Zapata-Reaves led the way with 12 kills, while Paige Cutwright added seven and the trio of Natalia Brandlin, Kingsley Mason and Leah Thibault each notched six kills.

Coast led throughout the opening set, but Ventura kept things close and eventually evened the score at 19 and again at 20, before a trio of unforced errors pushed OCC back out in front again. In fact, the final four points for the OCC Pirates came via Ventura mistakes as Coast grabbed the opening set. 

After dropping just their second set of the season, Ventura regrouped and grabbed a 21-11 lead in the second set and despite a 6-1 OCC run, the VC Pirates evened the match at a set apiece with a 25-17 win. 

The third set was a set of "runs" for both teams. Trailing, 14-10, Coast used a 7-1 run to grab a 17-15 advantage, only to watch Ventura bounce back with six staight points of its own for a 21-17 advantage. Coast took a timeout and immediately ripped off four straight points to even the set at 21, forcing Ventura into a timeout. A pair of Averi Carter kills pushed VC back out in front, 23-21, but kills by Cutwright and Thibault and an ace by Kylie Terakawa gave the OCC Pirates a set-point opportunity. 

But Ventura went to its top player, Murdoch, and the freshman slugger didn't disappoint, scoring five straight points to eventually put the "visiting" Pirates up 2-1 in the match.

Coast carried a 20-18 advantage in the fourth set before the duo of Knowles and Murdoch again pounded Ventura back into the lead with a 6-2 run. Cutwright's final kill of the night put OCC to within a point at 24-23, but fittingly enough, a Murdoch slam, her 33rd kill of the night, ended the match.

OCC will return to action on Friday at home in a tri-match with Glendale (2 p.m.) and College of the Desert (6 p.m.).