The Ventura College volleyball team was on the brink of elimination. VC faced match point as the No. 8-seeded Orange Coast College Pirates were serving, ahead 24-23. But a pair of long returns gave Ventura new life and a 25-24 advantage and the No. 9-seed went on to capture the fourth set, then the fifth to capture the program's first playoff victory under the direction of sixth-year head coach Brad Lyans, 25-23, 16-25, 25-27, 28-26, 15-13 in Costa Mesa. Kelly Rodriguez had 15 kills and 11 digs while Faith Mackie recorded 37 digs to help propel the VC Pirates (18-4) to victory.
Morgan Gallagher and Shantalle Ruiz each had 14 kills for VC in the marathon match that took nearly two-and-a-half hours to complete. Raphaella Rosales handed out 37 assists with 14 digs and Brooklyn Wallet had nine kills and six blocks. The trio of Mackie, Rodriguez and Kambria Dowling combined for 86 pass attempts with a rating of 2.28 (on a scale of 3), with Mackie leading the way at 2.53. Gabby Boado recorded 19 assists and nine digs in the match.
The tone of the match was set early with both teams fighting to gain control. It appeared that OCC might take the opener with a 22-20 lead, but the VC Pirates responded with four straight winners, and they won the set, 25-23.
Orange Coast came storming back in the second set, easily evening the match 25-16.
In the third set, VC had a late 7-1 run to take a 24-18 advantage, only to let it slip away to six straight winners by OCC. Ventura gained the upper hand on the next point, but three OCC winners left the VC Pirates stunned, 27-25, and down in the match 2-1.
Ventura then found themselves on the brink of elimination in the fourth set, trailing 24-23. But a pair of long returns by Orange Coast gave the VC Pirates new life, and eventually a 28-26 set win to even things up.
In the deciding set, Coast rallied for a 6-2 lead, only to see Ventura regain its form to post five straight winners. for a 7-6 advantage. THe match went back and forth from there and was all square at 13-13 before back-to-back kills by Rodriguez and Wallet propelled Ventura to victory.
Ventura advances to the CCCAA Southern California Regional Final Saturday Nov. 24 at No. 1 Irvine Valley. the match is set to begin at 6:00 pm.