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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.

Editors update: The men’s volleyball team was defeated in straight sets to the two-time defending champions Orange Coast College in the California Community College Athletic Association state championship.

The Mesa College men’s volleyball team defeated Golden West in four sets to advance to the state championship. The Mesa Olympians will play the two-time defending champions, Orange Coast College, on Saturday April 27.

San Diego Mesa is streaking 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 achieved a third place playoff ranking after winning their first 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. That drive begins with head coach David Proffitt, who was named the 2024 PCAC Coach of the Year, his first since he took the post in 2018.

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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.” 

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

Back at the semi-finals in Costa Mesa, the atmosphere at Orange Coast College 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 or 32C2A men’s volleyball state championship. 

The first match was #2 Golden West versus #3 San Diego Mesa College and is a rematch of a game played earlier this year, with Golden West winning three games to one, despite Mesa’s home court advantage.

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. They played loose and strong, clearly having a blast playing in their first semi-finals. Outside hitter Patrick Buckel was playing out of his mind, finishing the night with 16 kill shots. A kill is awarded to a player any time an attack is unreturnable by the opposition and is a direct cause of the opponent not returning the ball, or any time the attack leads directly to a blocking error by the opposition. These attacks were set-up by precision passing and excellent defense. The result was resounding, with Mesa winning the first set 25-14.

Golden West reminded everyone why they were the number two 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 rally’s. 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)

A win in the third set is crucial, as it is a first to three sets for a match win. A win here and the Olympians are one step closer to playing in the state championship. Substitutions and great serves kept the set tied at 13-all. A huge leaping play by the outside striker, TJ 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 Trevor Clark on a nifty dink and then a monstrous block by Patrick Buckel. Both teams were playing high quality volleyball but the communication and leadership willed the Olympians to a 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 that “I was really impressed. We’re still kind of a young team and so everyone of these sets gives us a little more experience.” 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 never relinquish the lead and would cruise to a match victory winning the final set 25-13.

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)

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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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