Boys' Volleyball: Titles roll in for HB

That championship form still fits the Huntington Beach High boys' volleyball team like a glove.

Within a four-day period, the Oilers laid claim to not one, but two championships. First, they weathered a two-day, seven game stretch to win the Redondo Union Varsity Classic. Tuesday on their home court at Combs Gymnasium, they sewed up their third consecutive undefeated run through Sunset League competition to capture another league championship.

Huntington, the season-long top-ranked team in CIF Southern Section Division 1, won its 30th straight league match by sweeping second-place Los Alamitos, 25-23, 25-16, 25-17, on Senior Night.

The Oilers started a senior lineup and played that group liberally throughout Tuesday's match and with the win, extended their win streak to 56 games.

"That's always the idea, if we can do that," Huntington Coach Craig Pazanti said of the senior lineup. "Our group seniors have done a great job in our program and deserve to be recognized for their hard work.

Huntington (32-0) trailed Los Alamitos at 22-21 in the first set, and the score was tied at 23-23, but a kill down the left side by junior outside hitter TJ DeFalco, who entered the match for the first time when the score was 22-22 and promptly delivered a kill from the left side, gave the Oilers the 25-23 win.

The Oilers only trailed once (1-0) in the second set in winning, 25-16, and led the entire way in a 25-17 win in set three that clinched the match.

Senior outside hitter Brenden Sander had a match-high 16 kills. Senior middle blocker Ryan Morrissey finished with nine kills and DeFalco and senior middle blocker Drake Evans both had eight kills.

"Overall, I thought we were a little bit sloppy, but I think that had to do with coming off a busy weekend where we played a lot of games," Pazanti said.

Huntington's unblemished run through the Redondo Union Varsity Classic culminated Saturday with a title-game victory over San Clemente. The Oilers swept the Tritons, 25-20, 25-14, to win their third major tournament title of the season.

Sander had 12 kills and three aces and DeFalco nine kills and three aces in the title match for the Oilers who previously won the titles of the Best of the West and Orange County Championships tournaments.

Sander was named MVP of the tournament and DeFalco and junior setter Josh Tuaniga both were named all-tournament.

Huntington was perfect in set play at Redondo, defeating the Redondo Union junior varsity team (2-0), Eastlake (2-0), Long Beach Poly (2-0), Servite (2-0), Dana Hills (2-0), La Costa Canyon (2-0), and San Clemente.

"It was a good weekend," Pazanti said. "It was the first tournament we've played with a full roster, and we showed a lot of depth and poise throughout the weekend.

"Any time you can win a tournament of this caliber, it's a great accomplishment, but to do so without dropping a set all weekend is a true statement of how the guys are playing right now."

Defending champion Huntington figures to have the No. 1 seed for the CIF Southern Section Division 1 playoffs locked up. The pairing brackets for all divisions will be released Friday.

Division wild-card matches are 7 p.m. Saturday. First-round matches start at 7 p.m. Tuesday. Second-round matches are May 15, quarterfinal matches May 17, and the semifinals are May 21.

Championship finals in Division 1-5 are May 24 at Cerritos College in Norwalk. The Division 1 final is 7:30 p.m.

Pazanti said that although his Oilers have accomplished much during the regular season, it's a new beginning for his team and as well as other teams who qualify for the CIF Southern Section playoffs.

"It's the start of a new season," he said. "We have high expectations and have set team goals, and will continue to do what we have done to get to this point of the season," he said. "We'll tweak a few things but basically, stick to what we have been doing.

"There are some good teams competing for the (Division 1) title, and a team can't afford to have a bad night. As defending champs, we'll have a target on our back. We'll be ready to play."

In other Sunset League finales Tuesday, Edison defeated Fountain Valley, 2513, 25-21, 21-25, 25-23, and Newport Harbor swept Marina, 25-20, 25-18, 25-18.

CIF Weekly Rankings

Boys' volleyball: Huntington Beach (No. 1, Division 1).

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