By Wes McCurtis
LONG BEACH, CA – The Cypress College beach volleyball team (14-5-1, 6-1 OEC) earned themselves a share of the program's first ever Orange Empire Conference Title after defeating Irvine Valley College 3-2 at the Long Beach Granada Courts on Friday (Apr. 21) afternoon.
"We came in to this season with just one returner and one transfer player with beach volleyball experience. We were really talented at indoor, but had to work extremely hard to master the beach game," said Head Coach Nancy Welliver. "I'm really proud of the group because of how much work it took to be successful and reach our goal." Coach Welliver was selected as the 2017 OEC Coach of the Year after building the Chargers' beach volleyball program into a champion. The 2017 season is just Cypress College's second year of competition in beach volleyball.
The Chargers began the day with their only loss in conference this season, falling 3-2 to Golden West. Tied 2-2 with the Rustlers, the match came down to the third set of No. 5's. Cypress' Ateya Allen/Toso Leae fought hard but eventually fell to the Rustlers (11-21, 21-9, 7-15).
Cypress immediately gathered themselves with a share of the Orange Empire Conference Title on the line and got the job done against defending OEC Champion Irvine Valley. The Lasers No. 1's picked up a big win in 3 sets over the Chargers' Paige Buchanan/Samantha Madrid (22-20, 14-21, 12-15), but the Cypress No. 2's, No. 3's, and No. 5's got it done down the stretch to bring the first ever beach volleyball championship back to Cypress College. "I really think our 5's were the difference this season. Last year we lost a lot of matches 3-2 and this year we won a lot of key matches 3-2. Our 5's went 6-1 in conference which made all the difference," said Welliver.
The Lady Chargers will continue their season on Tuesday, May 2 in the Southern California Regionals. Opponent and location TBD. Cypress will look to qualify pairs for the CCCAA State Tournament in the OEC Pairs Tournament this Friday at Newland Courts in Huntington Beach, CA.
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