One day after losing to El Camino in its regular-season finale, the Santa Barbara City College men’s volleyball team earned a berth in the Southern Cal Regional playoffs by winning a tiebreaker with the Warriors for third place in the Western State Conference.
SBCC (11-6, 6-4) will travel to Orange Coast College, which tied for second in the Pacific Coast Conference, for a match at 7 p.m. Tuesday. The Vaqueros won three of their last four matches while OCC (13-6, 9-3) has captured six of its last seven, losing only to Pacific Coast champ Irvine Valley College in five games.
“We’ve come a long way,” SBCC coach Melody Parker said. “It seems like we play better on the road.”
Parker has guided SBCC to 10 playoff appearances in 12 seasons — and there were no playoffs in one of those years because of budget cuts. This is the Vaqueros’ first playoff appearance since 2005. Parker was on sabbatical for the 2006 and ‘07 campaigns.
SBCC played at Orange Coast on Feb. 15 and was swept 30-18, 30-21, 30-24. The Pirates are led by 6-foot-2 Kevin Welch, who became OCC’s single-season kill leader with his 390th putaway in Wednesday’s 3-0 victory over San Diego City.
Parker noted that SBCC had lost to Orange Coast twice in previous regular seasons, then came back to beat them in the playoffs.
Tyson Rietz pounded 21 kills to pace SBCC in Wednesday’s 25-30, 30-26, 30-18, 30-24 setback to El Camino. The Vaqueros lost starting libero Steve Castaneda and outside hitter David Vanderwerff two matches ago because of academic problems.
The champions of the Western State and Pacific Coast conferences automatically qualify for the State Final Four on April 25-26 at Santa Monica College. Santa Monica won the WSC while Irvine Valley captured the PCC title. In the other SoCal Regional match, Golden West College (PCC No. 3) will travel to Long Beach City College (WSC No. 2).