Olympians’ magical season ends against Long Beach


The Union

Team captain Austin Kinnear keeping a rally alive.

Andres Armenta, Photo Editor

A team that led the state in nearly all major categories rarely finds itself associated with the term “Cinderella” — a testament to the historic season Mesa men’s volleyball had as they entered their first state semifinal game. 

“I don’t see this as a Cinderella season, I see this as a Cinderella program. We hadn’t been there before, but this group of players was very good,” said head coach David Proffitt.

The Mesa men’s volleyball season marked a bright future for the program, as an impressive first-round victory in the state playoffs set the Olympians up for the program’s first-ever  California Community College Athletic Association state semifinal game.

After going down two sets, 25-16 and 25-12, the Olympians aimed to pull off another reverse sweep as they did in the quarterfinals.

Yet their efforts came up short.

The road to the historic playoff run had its fair share of highs and lows. The Olympians’ season sported two six-game winning streaks and finished second in their division, earning them a spot in CCCAA state playoffs.

Their playoff berth as the No. 4 seed snapped a seven-year playoff drought, and an impressive quarter-final reverse sweep victory against Santa Barbara secured the program’s first-ever playoff win.

“Our fans kept us going, I think their energy as well as the coaches, eventually led from one point to the next,” said Tripler (TJ) Letuligasenoa, an outside hitter and team leader in all major attacking categories.

The victory set up a match against No. 1 seed Long Beach City College, who the Olympians were set to play earlier in the season, but were unable to due to schedule conflicts. The Vikings, with a streak of 42 set wins, were vying for a third consecutive trip to the CCCAA state final.

As the first whistle blew, the Olympians aimed to continue their improbable run, and the Vikings hoped to avenge last season’s runner-up finish. 

The Vikings looked dominant and prepared. By the end of the first set, the Vikings had surmounted a kill percentage of .444, in comparison to the Olympians’ .143. With a combination of service errors by Mesa and successful rallies in favor of the Vikings, Long Beach closed out the first set 25-16.