Spurred by a sophomore class that believed nothing less, the Moorpark College men's volleyball team dug deep and found the energy to survive a five-game thriller in Thursday night's state semifinals at Orange Coast College.
Right-side Josh Howley had a game-high 24 kills, middle blocker Kyle Auge had 18 kills and eight blocks and setter Adam Quinn had a game-high 74 assists as the Raiders edged Irvine Valley, snatching the decisive fifth game, 15-13, after splitting the first four 30-22, 30-24, 28-30 and 31-33.
"Our kids are just fighting to the end," said Moorpark coach Steve Burkhart. "It's just so incredible.
"The sophomores on this team have been telling me all year, 'We're going to get you to the final, coach.' "
And that's where the Raiders (16-4) will be Saturday night at 7, playing for its second state title against host Orange Coast College (18-2), which eliminated defending state champion Long Beach City in four games.
Orange Coast halted Moorpark's Western State Conference championship season a year ago in the postseason opener.
Trevor Willenberg had 15 kills, Tyler Peterson had 10 kills and Eric Varney had 14 digs as the Raiders advanced to its second state title game. Moorpark won the 2005 state title as the hosts.