When most people see TJ Defalco play volleyball they get caught up in the way the Huntington Beach High outside hitter can jump high and hit so hard. They are amazed to find out he's only a junior and begin to think how great he and the Oilers will be next year.
Never mind 2015. The scary thought is that unbeaten Huntington Beach is only going to get better this season.
Playing with their No. 3 setter, Davis Gillett, who is a backup libero, the Oilers swept Corona del Mar, 25-23, 25-17, 26-24, to capture the OC Championships Division 1 title Monday at Edison High.
Perhaps fittingly, Gillett ended the match with his second ace, a serve that clipped the net and dropped for the final point.
"He does so much for us, especially to have to step in and set," Oilers Coach Craig Pazanti said of Gillett. "That's not an easy thing when all you've done your whole life is hit and pass."
Gillett finished with 36 assists. The Oilers lost setter Tanner Woods last week when they won the Best of the West Tournament.
Woods broke a finger on his right hand, Pazanti said, and will be out at least four weeks. Josh Tuaniga, Huntington Beach's expected starting setter, won't be eligible to play until April 7 because of transfer rules, as he is transferring in from St. John Bosco.
When Tuaniga joins the team, the Oilers will only get better.
Huntington Beach was impressive against Corona del Mar and left Coach Steve Conti disappointed with the way his Sea Kings approached the match, that featured the two top-ranked teams in CIF Southern Section Division 1.
"Our guys are really good kids but they are kind of quiet," Conti said. "I think they need to be a little more tenacious when they come out on the court. Maybe have more of a football mindset, rather than the kind of happy-to-be-here [mentality]. You just don't see that sense of urgency, competing for and fighting for every point all the time. I think there are times when we do it, but not all the time."
CdM (10-2), which has lost twice to HB, battled the Oilers in the first set that featured 12 and five lead changes. However Huntington Beach took control late in the set and finished off the Sea Kings.
The Oilers strong setting proved to be too much for CdM, as they built a 5-0 lead in the second set and were never in trouble of losing.
The Sea Kings had a chance to send the match into a fourth set, but Huntington Beach held them off thanks to an error and then Gillett's final ace.
Defalco (three aces) and Brenden Sander (two aces) had 13 kills each. Defalco was named the tournament's MVP for Division 1. Sander earned all-tournament team honors, as did Drake Evans.
Joey Martino led the way for Corona del Mar with 12 kills and he was named to the all-tournament team, as was setter Matt Ctvrtlik, who had 24 assists.
Ryan Moss added five kills.
Chandler Gibb of Edison, was also on the all-tournament team. The Chargers finished fourth after losing to San Clemente in five sets in the third-place match on Saturday.