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Blanton’s Kills Sink the Oilers

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Dain Blanton of Laguna Beach High School proved difficult to stop on the basketball court last season, averaging 19 points a game in leading the Artists to the Southern Section 2-A finals.

And on Monday night, Huntington Beach discovered how hard it is to stop Blanton on the volleyball court.

Blanton had a career-high 46 kills, including 15 in the deciding fifth game, as Laguna Beach defeated Huntington Beach, 11-15, 15-10, 15-8, 13-15, 15-11, in a nonleague volleyball match at Huntington Beach.

“That’s what Blanton’s supposed to do,” Huntington Beach Coach Rocky Ciarelli said. “I expect that out of him. We did well against him on the front line, but it was when he came from the back row that he gave us trouble.”

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But for someone who had a career night, Blanton sure wasn’t happy after the match.

“Overall this was a pretty bad game,” said Blanton, a 6-foot-5 outside hitter. “It wasn’t much fun at all. It seemed to drag on and on and Coach (Lance) Stewart started yelling at us.”

Stewart said he had reason to yell. Laguna Beach committed 30 errors to Huntington Beach’s 36 in the 2 1/2-hour struggle.

“Dain was the only one out there attacking the ball with any meaning,” Stewart said. “It was like all of us were in a fog. Huntington Beach was in a San Francisco fog and we were in a Laguna fog. Their fog was just thicker than ours.”

Ciarelli said the fog never lifted.

“At least I can look at Laguna and say they had an excuse (for not playing well),” he said. “They’ve had some big games in the last week and they clinched their league title.”

Laguna Beach, 13-3 overall and ranked second in Orange County, beat Woodbridge in four games Friday to clinch the Pacific Coast League title with a 9-1 record. Huntington Beach, ranked third, dropped to 11-3 overall.

Josh Borella had 10 kills and Eric Fegraus added nine for Laguna Beach. Matt Taylor had 23 kills and three aces to lead Huntington Beach. Steve Lucas had 19 kills and Doug Cunningham added 11 for the Oilers.

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Stewart said his team entered the game tired.

“This was our fourth game in the last (six) days,” Stewart said. “Sometimes you have to get the kids back in the gym and work. There were a lot of unforced errors on both sides. I would say 90% of the points were scored on mistakes.”

But 15 of the Artists’ points, including five in the final game, resulted from Blanton’s kills. He had three in a 6-1 run in the final game as the Artists broke a 5-5 tie.

“We’re a good team and we hung in there,” Stewart said. “Good teams do that when they’re not playing well. And we definitely weren’t playing well.”

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