Irvine Valley wins thrilling CCCAA Beach Volleyball Championship over Feather River

Irvine Valley won the 2022 CCCAA Beach Volleyball Championship on Thursday.
Irvine Valley won the 2022 CCCAA Beach Volleyball Championship on Thursday.

Team Championship Scoreboard
Pairs Brackets: Morning wave | Afternoon wave [scroll down]

IRVINE
- Players on the Irvine Valley women's beach volleyball team battled and fought all day on Thursday and they are sending their legendary coach out on top.

Irvine Valley, the first California Community College Athletic Association State Champion in 2015, came back to defeat Cabrillo to win its pool and then out-lasted Feather River in a final match that went down to the wire to claim the State Championship on the Laser beach courts at IVC.

Irvine Valley, in a match that went down to a final set with all fans in attendance watching the No. 2 flight, had the duo of Jolie Rasmussen and Barett Nolan score a 16-14 win in the third set to give the Lasers the title.

And the match was back and forth throughout between Feather River's Katherine Gee and Sydnee Rowe and Rasmussen and Nolan.

The first four matches were decided in straight sets with Feather River's Jessica Hickel and Ava Saiers (No. 4) and Carissa Chainey and Taylor O'Reilly (No. 1) each winning and Irvine Valley's Diamonique Brogan and Chloe Swanson (No. 3) and Gabi Brown and Sevilla Leuteneker (No. 5) earning victories.

So the state title was riding on a match that was decided on a few final points on the No. 2 court.

Rasmussen and Nolan, who only started playing together in March, won the first set, 21-15, but Feather River's Gee and Rowe dominated the second set, 21-9.

Irvine Valley took a 9-6 lead in the third set only to see the Golden Eagle pair score five points in a row, including getting a block by Rowe to put Feather River ahead, 11-9.

But the Lasers tied the match at 12 on a hitting error and then went up, 13-12, on a kill by Rasmussen.

The set was tied at 13 and 14 before IVC got a kill by Nolan and a ball hit out by Feather River ended the final and gave Irvine Valley its second CCCAA team title.

"They fit," Pestolesi of Rasmussen and Nolan. "It is difficult to make changes sometimes, but we knew that it was a pairing that could work. They came up big today."

So did the No. 3 team of Brogan and Swanson, which swept all three of its matches on Thursday for IVC.

Pestolesi retired from coaching Irvine Valley's women's and men's indoor volleyball teams and teaching on campus in 2020, but has continued to be a part of running the beach program.

He has been a big part of helping start what is now CCCAA women's beach volleyball, one of the growing sports in the state.

Pestolesi has coached at Irvine Valley for 23 years and has guided the men's indoor, women's indoor and women's beach programs.
He has two state titles with the women's indoor team, three with the men's indoor squad and now two with beach.
He is the only coach in California Community College state history to win a state championship in men's indoor, women's indoor and women's beach volleyball and has more than 500 wins combined for men's and women's indoor volleyball at Irvine Valley.
"It is so fun to go out with a win and a title," Pestolesi said. "It is about these athletes first and what they accomplished. I am so happy for them. But to be around all of your friends and people that have supported and helped you. This is truly the best. This doesn't happen very often. I have been very forturnate."

Irvine Valley, the No. 2 team from the South, moved on to the state final after grabbing two, late three-set wins to rally and beat No. 1 North team Cabrillo, 3-2, earlier in the day.

Brown and Leuteneker and Rasmussen and Nolan each won in three sets to move the Lasers on.

"We were down to Cabrillo and down to Feather River and found a way today," Pestolesi said. "I can't say enough about how this team worked and got through everything all year long. We had challenges with COVID, injuries, changes of our lineup, but we found a way. We made two more plays at the end and that was the difference. It was our day on our courts."

Feather River, the No. 2 team from the North, out-lasted No. 1 South Orange Coast, 3-2, to move into the state final.

O'Reilly and Chainey and Hickel and Saiers each had important, three-set victories against OCC to close that match out for the Golden Eagles.

Irvine Valley 3, Feather River 2 (CCCAA State Championship Final)
No. 1 - Carissa Chainey/Taylor O'Reilley (FRC) def. Jaclyn Sanchez/Emily Guenter (IVC), 21-17, 21-17
No. 2 - Jolie Rasmussen/Barett Nolan (IVC) def. Katherine Gee/Sydnee Rowe (FRC), 21-15, 9-21, 16-14
No. 3 - Diamonique Brogan/Chloe Swanson (IVC) def. Nellie Stevenson/Michelle Ramirez (FRC), 21-15, 21-17
No. 4 - Jessica Hickel/Ava Saiers (FRC) def. Kendall Fraser/Madeline Harkey (IVC), 21-12, 21-18
No. 5 -Gabi Brown/Sevilla Leuteneker (IVC) def. Aliyah Stevenson/Britney Blomquist (FRC), 21-11, 21-13 

All of the team scores from Thursday's State Championship at Irvine Valley can be found here.

(Brent Shaver, CCCSIA)