In the state volleyball championships next weekend at Santa Barbara City College, the Pierce College Brahmas will try to prove they are California’s best for the second time in three years.
Long Beach City College is already convinced.
Pierce swept the Vikings, 15-13, 15-7, 15-9, in a Western State Conference match Friday night at Valley College to conclude a perfect regular season--19-0, 18-0 in conference play. The conference title qualifies the Brahmas for the state tournament.
The team’s success this season has been no small feat. The Brahmas played home matches at Valley because the Pierce gym was condemned because of the Jan. 17 earthquake. At one point they were holding early morning practices at three locations.
It obviously didn’t bother them much on the court.
Against the Vikings (12-6, 12-6), Pierce thrived behind the hitting of Gabe Higa, Jason Ring and Felipe Placencia and showcased a quick defense.
“Pierce took us out of our rhythm,” said Ken Gregory, the Long Beach coach. “They served well and we couldn’t pick up any blocks.”
Higa, a freshman opposite hitter who played basketball at UC Irvine and Irvine Valley College before transferring to Pierce, repeatedly broke through the Long Beach defense and finished with 27 kills.
Ring, a freshman outside hitter, contributed 17 kills and Placencia, a freshman outside hitter from Ventura High, had 14 kills.
“Typically, Gabe Higa puts a lot of pressure on the other teams,” Pierce Coach Ken Stanley said. “They have to overload on him and it keeps them off balance against our other guys.”
After a tight first game, the Brahmas cruised in the second game after jumping to an 11-5 lead.
Long Beach opened the third game with a 5-0 blitz, but Pierce went on an 11-1 run before Higa’s spike ended the match.