The atmosphere in the gym was electric. Santa Ana traveled to Orange Coast College on Nov. 9, in a competitive conference game with second place on the line. For the first time in 40 years, the Dons were ranked and looking to improve their playoff seeding.
Fans were on their feet in the front rows of the stands, while the gym echoed loudly their cheers. But an adjustment to their pre-serve formation led to penalties that collapsed their comeback effort.
Orange Coast defeated the Dons 3-1, bumping Santa Ana to third in conference.
Santa Ana held a 23-21 lead late in the fourth set, yet committed two straight illegal overlap penalties on the Pirate serves. These illegal overlap penalties awarded two free points to the Pirates. O.C.C. capitalized on these mistakes, scoring the last four points and winning the set 25-23.
“I needed to put them in a different lineup that they had never practiced, because I felt it was necessary in order to win that game. It worked, but unfortunately they struggled with where to stand,” coach Troy Abbey said.
The Pirates started off hot, winning the first set 25-21, in which they held the lead for the majority of the set.
In response, the Dons took the second set 25-21, in a very similar fashion to the Pirates. They controlled the ball, took a lead, and didn’t relent.
The Pirates completely dominated the third set, ultimately winning 25-19.
Although they led late in the fourth set, the illegal overlap penalties crushed their momentum.
“I thought they tried their best. If we’d won that game, then everybody would’ve said I was a genius,” said Abbey.
Outside hitter Matilde Teixeira led the team with 23 kills. Setter Kaiden Raif led the team with 37 assists and libero Ines Lopes led the team with 20 digs.
According to the Southern California Regional Bracket, the Dons claimed the seventh seed, while the Pirates slotted in at the fifth seed in the playoffs.
Santa Ana plays at home against College of the Canyons, on Tuesday, Nov. 22. Santa Ana is currently ranked 12th in the state, while Canyons is ranked 14th.
Tickets for general admission are $12 cash only. Students, faculty, staff, senior citizens, and children pay $8 cash.
The winner advances to the regional finals where they play the winner of the game between Bakersfield and Irvine Valley college. The regional finals will be played this Saturday, Nov. 26.