COSTA MESA — It may be a little too late in the season to save Coach Travis Turner's ravaged voice, but the Orange Coast College men's volleyball team required little instruction in a dominating Pacific Coast Conference sweep of visiting Palomar on Wednesday.
The Pirates (8-4, 5-1 in conference) needed only 60 minutes to conquer the Comets, 25-12, 25-12, 25-21, behind a match-high 12 kills from freshman opposite Dillon Emery and 28 assists from sophomore setter Michael Ensign.
Ensign, a Corona del Mar High product who has already received scholarship offers from Ohio State and Penn State, Turner said, has been a steadying influence all season for the Pirates, ranked No. 2 in the state.
"Ensign has been doing a great job," Turner said. "Not just in setting, which has been really good, but his maturity and leadership has really improved."
Sophomore outside hitter Chris Van Vuuren added six kills, two block assists and two service winners, while freshman outside hitter Rusty Sary, a Newport Harbor High product, chipped in four kills, a block assist and a service winner.
Freshman middle blocker Sam Jergens had two block assists and one solo block to go with three kills for the winners, who retained their share of the conference lead with Irvine Valley and Golden West.
OCC won at Golden West in the first round, but was defeated at IVC for its lone conference loss.
The Pirates meet IVC at home on Wednesday at 6 p.m., then play host to Golden West on April 4.
"We're in a good spot right now, because we have Golden West and IVC at home," Turner said. "I think we're in the driver's seat, but our passing has got to continue to improve if we are going to have a chance to win league."
Turner said his team's passing against Palomar was superb, especially in the first two games. He praised the work of freshman libero Victor Shaefer for helping Ensign trigger a balanced attack.
"That first game is as efficient as we've been all year," Turner said. "We're pretty good, offensively, when we pass the ball. Our passing has been a little bit of an issue, but we are improving. I'd say from the IVC match to this match, our improved passing has been the biggest difference."
OCC never trailed in any of the three games, but No. 10-ranked Palomar (3-10, 3-4) pulled even at 12-12, 14-14 and 15-15 in Game 3. OCC used an 8-1 run to earn a 23-16 advantage, before closing out the sweep.