COSTA MESA — The shorthanded Orange Coast College men's volleyball team pushed defending state champion Long Beach City College to the limit on Friday night before the Vikings found the upper hand down the stretch for a five-set win inside OCC's Peterson Gym.
Greg Utupo had 19 kills and Austin Arcala added 10 kills to lead the undefeated Vikings past the Pirates, 25-16, 28-30, 21-25, 25-21, 15-10 in a nonconference matchup.
The Pirates (2-2), playing without the services of two starters — Austin Bagby and Cody Martin — overcame a sluggish start and gave the Vikings (4-0) all they could handle.
Johannes Brink led OCC with 21 kills and Ty Hutchins added 14 to go along with five blocks.
Both teams went back and forth in the opening set before Long Beach took control of things down the stretch. Leading 14-13, the Vikings ripped off an 11-3 run, led by three Arcala kills, a pair of aces by Henry Taylor and four errant returns by the Pirates.
It looked like more of the same in the second set as the strong play of the Vikings pushed the guests out in front, 18-13, before the Pirates finally pushed back with some strong play of their own.
A 5-1 run got OCC back to within a point at 19-18, but LBCC regrouped and had five different set-point opportunities, but all four were turned away by the Pirates.
Finally, after a hitting error and serving error pushed OCC out in front 29-28, the Pirates picked up a huge block by Hutchins to end the set and even the match.
The third set had several mini-runs from both teams. First, Coast jumped out 13-7 before 7-3 run cut the lead down to two at 16-14.
The lead was 17-14 before Long Beach took the lead, 20-19, thanks to a 6-1 run, highlighted by a pair of blocks by Jo'Lon Clark.
But three straight blocks from the Pirates — a pair by Connor Luckey and one by Hutchins — sparked a 6-1 run to close the set out and give Coast a 2-1 lead in the match.
Long Beach grabbed the upper hand in the fourth set, breaking open a 12-12 tie with a 10-4 run to lead, 22-16. Blocks by Utupo, Jon Schaefer, Tim Davis and kills from Schaefer and Arcala sparked the big Vikings' run.
OCC got back to within a pair at 23-21 before an Utupo kill and long OCC return evened the match at two sets apiece.
Long Beach carried that momentum into the fifth set and never trailed the rest of the way. Leading 9-8, two kills and a block from Utupo helped spark a 5-1 run, putting the Vikings up 14-9.
Coast picked up the next point, but a kill by Davis ended the match on the next serve.
The Pirates will be on the road for the next two weeks before returning to the Peterson Gym on March 1 against Golden West at 6 p.m.