COSTA MESA — Orange Coast College took rival Golden West College to five games for the first time this season — unfortunately for the Pirates, they lost and could not deal the Rustlers their first Orange Empire Conference loss this season.
The Pirates came within five points of beating the Rustlers, but came up just short in a back-and-forth rally, as Golden West won, 20-25, 25-19, 25-20, 18-25, 15-11, Wednesday at OCC.
Golden West (17-3) clinched the OEC championship at 12-0.
The turning point in the fifth game came as Golden West took a 9-4 lead. A Rustler back-row player made a huge save right in front of the Orange Coast fans, which led to a kill by Alicia Utke that drew a huge roar from the sizable Golden West visiting crowd.
Utke was among the kill leaders for the Rustlers and she had three in the fifth game. Bethanee Boggs kick-started the rally with a block for a 6-3 lead. Then she delivered four kills in the fifth game, her last one giving her team a 13-7 lead.
"It was anxious out there," Boggs said. "It was nerve-wracking. I try to work hard for my teammates. It feels amazing [being undefeated in conference]. I look for us to close our last two matches out."
While Golden West featured a balanced attack all match long, Orange Coast (10-2, 15-3) relied heavily on Karlee Riggs, who had 24 kills and five in the fifth game. Riggs fought off match point with her final kill, put right down the middle from the left front side. Isabel Emrich caused fits with her left-handed swing with 11 kills and Morgan Link added eight kills.
"It sucks we got beat," Riggs said. "We didn't do what we were told to do. We played our hearts out. We just didn't pull through."
Riggs acknowledged the fact the Pirates played better than their 25-19, 18-25, 26-28, 22-25 loss to GWC the first time around. She said the team shut down Boggs until the fifth game.
"That was awesome," Riggs said. "We have to finish these next two matches [Friday at Cypress and Nov. 16 at Fullerton]. Then we'll work our butts off, hopefully we'll go to state."
Before any talk about a state berth happens, first OCC needs to get through the three-round SoCal Regionals, set for Nov. 22, Nov. 26 and Nov. 29.
Orange Coast College head coach Chuck Cutenese was not available for comment after the match.
Allison Lumsden, who had a block and an ace to start the fifth game for a 2-0 Pirates lead, had 56 assists.
Lumsden was one of the stars in the match-tying fourth game, with an ace and several assists as Orange Coast raced out to a 20-10 lead. The teams primarily traded missed serves and long hits, with Golden West getting within 23-18. But a Rustler serve went long and a hit by Ashley Hubbard also sailed long.
Golden West fought off five kills by Riggs in the second game and three each by Riggs, Emrich and Link to win close games.
In the first game won by Orange Coast, Dana Nicholson made several leaping kills and Riggs had two early ones for a 14-11 lead. Riggs took control of the game late to put it away.
Orange Coast libero Andi Frisina led the team with 15 digs. Nicholson added 14, Riggs 13 and Emrich 11.