After hauling in a Western State Southern Division Conference Championship a handful of days prior, the No. 3-seeded Long Beach City College men's volleyball team hosted the No. 6-seeded Fullerton College Hornets in the first round of the California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA) state playoffs. The Vikings pressed the gas pedal to the floor throughout the entire contest by completing a first-round sweep of the Hornets with set-scores reading 25-9, 25-20, and 25-21.
The Vikings jumped out to an early double-digit lead in that put them in a solid position for the remainder of the set. Freshman opposite Steven Rotter (La Palma, CA) got the Vikings on the board first with a kill that was assisted by sophomore setter Gary Trejo (Long Beach, CA). Sophomore middle Elai Mama (Moreno Valley, CA) followed with a kill, backed by a hammer from sophomore outside Travis O'Gorman (East Northport, NY) leading to a sizable 16-4 lead.
From then on, freshman outside Cyrus Fa'alogo (Salt Lake City, UT) took the reins and dominated. The freshman sensation recorded five kills down the stretch along with solid defense en route to a dominating 25-9 set win.
Long Beach remained tough in the second set with Fa'alogo taking control of the set early by recording five more kills leading to a quick 10-5 lead. However, the Hornets tied the set up at 14-all to force the Vikings' hand.
Nevertheless, the Vikings responded with nine unanswered points with two kills and a block by Fa'alogo leading to the 25-20 set win.
The third set was a back-and-forth affair early that had the set tied at six-all. Rotter rose up for two kills to give the Vikings their first lead of the set at 11-9. Fa'alogo extended that lead with a pair of kills leading to a 16-12 advantage.
Long Beach maintained the four-point advantage with kills from O'Gorman and Fa'alogo. Mama capped off the set with a kill to lead the Vikings to a set-victory and a match sweep.
The Vikings outplayed Fullerton in every aspect of the match due in part to the utter dominance of the Viking offense. At the helm was Fa'alogo with 18 kills on a whopping .600 hitting percentage. He had 25 attempts and made the most of them by only committing a mere trio of errors.
"The only thing I can say is teamwork," said Fa'alogo, who paces the Western State Division – South in almost every offensive category. "We worked really hard this week and we knew that we had to be better mentally."
Despite holding an 11-game winning streak, the Vikings have dropped some important sets against top-10 teams in recent contests. Fa'alogo expressed the important of honing in on your opponents – especially in a playoff atmosphere.
"We really worked on our connection and trusting each other. We need to stay consistent and not get too comfortable when we get big leads."
Head Coach Jonathon Charrette shared similar thoughts on the game as the Vikings look forward to the next round of playoffs.
"Our focus from this point moving forward is improving our relationships and improving our communication, becoming better teammates and a better unit come Thursday."
A handful of other Vikings chipped in on the offensive end with freshman middle Eli Garcia (Bellflower, CA) and Mama owning the middle for a combined seven blocks. Mama added seven kills as well.
Long Beach will travel to Pierce College on Thursday, April 27th for the semifinal matchup against the No. 7 El Camino College Warriors who defeated the No. 2 Irvine Valley College Lasers. The match is set for 5 p.m.