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Photo courtesy of Peter Mondrick
Photo courtesy of Peter Mondrick

Pirates outlast Chargers in five-set marathon

COSTA MESA -- Some friendly advice if anyone who reads this decides to go to the next women's volleyball match between Orange Coast and Cypress on Oct. 27 at Cypress College ... eat dinner beforehand.

As what usually happens when two solid programs like the No. 12 Chargers and the No. 21 Pirates get together, the matches tend to go LONG and on Wednesday night inside the Peterson Gym, the trend continued as OCC held on for a five-set win over Cypress, 20-25, 25-18, 25-15, 24-26, 15-6, in a crucial Orange Empire Conference matchup. 

With a balanced attack from Kingsley Mason (10 kills), Lulu Utterback (nine kills) and Taylor Brandley (nine kills), the Pirates (8-3, 2-1 in the OEC) found just enough offense and forced the Chargers into enough mistakes to pull out the win.

Shayna Martinez led the Chargers (10-3, 2-2 in the OEC) with 16 kills, while Rose Whitter added 14. 

The opening set was a battle of "streaks". Trailing 6-4, Coast ripped off six points in a row to grab a 10-6 advantage, only to see the Chargers answer back with an 8-0 run of their own, reclaiming a 14-10 lead. 

Coast responded with a 7-1 run to lead 17-15, before Cypress returned the favor with a 7-1 run of its own for a 22-18 lead. Coast pulled to within 22-20 before the Chargers scored the final three points to grab the opening set.

It was a stronger start to things for the Pirates in the second set as the hosts grabbed a 16-8 advantage and never looked back to even things at a set apiece. 

The Pirates trailed 11-9 in the third set before using a 10-2 run to regain the lead for good, taking the third set, 25-15. Mary Masias had a pair of kills and a block down the final stretch of that set, while Joceline Martinez added a kill and a block as well.

The most entertaining set of the night came in the fourth as both teams battled back and forth. Cypress used a 7-1 run to grab a 22-18 lead, only to see Coast go 4-for-4 with points to even things at 22, forcing Cypress into a timeout. But the Charger hitters -- Whitter, Zariah Honeycutt, Larissa Samano and Kiana Salamone notched crucial kills to give the Chargers a 26-24 win, forcing a 15-point fifth set.

Coast quickly brushed off the fourth-set disappointment and jumped out to an 11-4 lead and never gave the Chargers an opportunity to creep back into the set. Finally, a long kill attempt on match point ended the two-hour battle in favor of the Pirates. 

Up next, the Pirates will head to Santa Ana College to face the Dons on Friday (6 p.m.). OCC's next home match will be on Wednesday against Saddleback (6 p.m.).