At times Wednesday night, Huntington Beach's volleyball team played well enough to deserve its first appearance in a Southern Section 4-A championship game.
At other times, the Oilers looked like they would struggle against a junior varsity team.
But the unseeded Oilers overcame a sluggish start and sloppy play for a 7-15, 9-15, 15-5, 15-8, 15-6 victory over second-seeded Manhattan Beach Mira Costa in a 4-A semifinal match at Fountain Valley High.
The Oilers (20-2) advanced to Saturday night's championship match against unseeded Santa Barbara, which upset top-seeded Newport Harbor in the other semifinal.
Claud Doumerc had 20 kills and six blocks and Shadd Walker added 18 kills as the Oilers won their third consecutive five-game playoff match. They defeated Irvine in five games in the second round and rallied from a two-game deficit to defeat Los Angeles Loyola in the quarterfinals.
"I guess we're a team that likes to live on the edge," Huntington Beach Coach Rocky Ciarelli said.
The Oilers, who had only two blocks in the first two games, managed 15 over the final three games. They had four big blocks on Cameron Green, Mira Costa's top player, in the fifth game.
Green led Mira Costa (16-5) with 24 kills, and Neal O'Brien added 16.
Huntington Beach struggled with its passing and hitting in the first two games, converting only 64% of its kill attempts.
The Oilers improved to 92% in the third game, largely because of the hitting of Walker (seven kills) and Doumerc (six kills). Jeff Vanderwal added two big blocks and Doumerc one as the Oilers raced to a 14-2 lead and won, 15-5.
Doumerc had four kills and two blocks in the fourth game as the Oilers built leads of 7-0 and 12-6 and cruised to the victory.
Huntington Beach broke a 5-5 tie in the fifth game, scoring 10 of the next 11 points for the victory.