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The independent student news site of San Diego Mesa College.

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Men’s volleyball advances to State Championship

Ricardo Lorna #16 raises up and strikes a kill versus Golden West. Lorna was named the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference player of the year.

The Mesa College men’s volleyball team defeated Golden West College in four sets on April 25 to advance to the state championship, avenging an earlier home loss back on Feb. 28. The Mesa Olympians will play the two-time defending champions, Orange Coast College, on April 27.

The Olympians streaked into the playoffs, winning 5 straight, including a playoff win versus Irvine Valley in straight sets, 25-23, 25-21, 25-18, to send them to their first semi-finals matchup versus Golden West. Mesa is the only team with 20 wins and has been dominating, with an impressive overall record of 21-4 and 8-1 in conference play. The team earned a No. 3 playoff seed after winning the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference championship. 

Accolades for the team are stacking up and are a testament to their competitive style and ultimate goal of winning the state championship. Those accolades begin with head coach David Proffitt, who was named the 2024 PCAC Coach of the Year, his first since taking the post in 2018.

Head Coach David Proffitt huddles with his team late in the second set. (David J. Bohnet)

“It feels great. It’s a good thing to be acknowledged, but really I couldn’t have done it without a great coaching staff and a good group of guys who come in, work hard, and sacrifice a lot,” Proffitt said. 

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On the players side, sophomore middle blocker Ricardo Lorja was named the 2024 PCAC Men’s Volleyball Player of the Year. Mesa also landed two additional players (three total) on the All-PCAC First Team: Trevor Clark and TJ Letuligasenoa. 

Against a pro-Orange Coast College crowd in Costa Mesa, the atmosphere was spirited as the final four teams played to compete for a chance to move on and play in the California Community College Athletic Association state championship. 

The match was a rematch of one played earlier this year, with Golden West winning three games to one, despite it being a Mesa home game.

Patrick Buckel elevates to strike and led all players with 16 kills. (David J. Bohnet)

Mesa was ready to avenge the loss and came out on fire.  Outside hitter Patrick Buckel had a standout night, finishing with 16 kills. These attacks were set up by precision passing and excellent defense.

Mesa stayed sharp and finished the match the same way they began it, with a fun and competitive edge that got them the lead early and they never looked back. After scoring the first three points, Mesa would not relinquish the lead and would cruise to a match victory, winning the final set 25-13.

Mesa was dominant in the first set, taking it 25-14. Golden West reminded everyone why they were the No. 2 seed and raced to a 4-1 lead early in the second set. They were able to force the Olympians into a few crucial errors, awakening the raucous Golden West Rustler crowd. The Olympians were able to overcome the early deficit and tie it up after some incredibly intense rallies. In the end, Mesa lost the closely contested set, 26-24.

Julian Montes and Logan Shepard deny a Golden West kill shot. (David J. Bohnet)

Substitutions and great serving kept the set tied at 13-all. A huge leaping play by Letuligasenoa, gave the Olympians some juice and stopped the Rustler attack.

Mesa found their mojo again, after a few surprising net violations and scored on back-to-back plays, first by Clark on a nifty dink and then a monstrous block by Patrick Buckel. Both teams were playing high quality volleyball but the Olympians pulled out the set win, 25-22.

“We stay with our services and we practice constantly. It keeps us sharp.”

— Head Coach David Proffitt

When asked about the team’s resilience in the final set, coach Proffitt said, “I was really impressed. We’re still kind of a young team and so everyone of these sets gives us a little more experience.”

The men’s volleyball team will play the defending champions, Orange Coast College, on their home court Saturday April 27 at 7 p.m. Coach Proffitt describes this next matchup as just another regular game. “OC is a great team,” he said of the 2x reigning champions. The two teams met earlier in the season and resulted in a loss for the Olympians in straight sets. The team will look to even the series and continue their stellar run. An upset of the reigning champions would be historic and would deliver San Diego Mesa College its first state championship in men’s volleyball history.

Mesa Men’s Volleyball team celebrates a win to send them to the State Championship. (David J. Bohnet)

Editors update: Two-time defending champion Orange Coast College defeated Mesa in straight sets in the state championship match on April 27.

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About the Contributor
David J. Bohnet
David J. Bohnet, Features/Sports Editor
David J. Bohnet is proud to be a part of the Mesa Press as the Features and Sports Editor. He hopes to shed light on important news and happenings around Mesa College and San Diego through his writing and photography.  He has a BFA from the University of Utahs' Actors Training program and is looking toward a masters in Journalism and Media Studies. David is hoping to feature the arts, sports, and entertainment with the occasional opinion piece. Stay tuned!
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