Introducing one-man volleyball--Granada Hills High style.
Mike DiSimone, a 6-foot-3 junior outside hitter, had a career-best 29 kills and a hand in nearly ever point as the top-seeded Highlanders defeated Westchester for the third time this season, 15-6, 3-15, 17-15, 15-9, at Granada Hills in the quarterfinals of the City Section 4-A Division playoffs to remain undefeated.
"I don't want to sound conceited, but I think (winning) does depend on me," DiSimone said.
But it was senior setter Eugene Haban, who had a season-high 61 assists, who made DiSimone's dominance possible.
"When Eugene gives (DiSimone) that set right there, he's hard to stop," Granada Hills Coach Tom Harp said.
Westchester Coach Errol Moragaki disagreed with the two-man theory and put his team's loss into simpler terms: "We just couldn't stop DiSimone."
After breezing in the first game, the Highlanders (15-0) came up with their best Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde impression and were blitzed by the Comets (9-6) in the second game.
The Highlanders were sparked in the third game by senior Mike Agustin, who had six kills. He had 14 in the match.
"Winning the third game was the momentum swing," Harp said. "It's hard to come back when you've lost two straight (games)."
The front line duo of 6-5 Jeremy Ellis and 6-6 Eric Williams combined for 10 blocks in the fourth game to keep Westchester at bay. Ellis finished with 10 blocks while Williams recorded three.
"Blocking. That's the key to our season right now," Harp said.
Harp says this year's team is better than his 1991 Highlander team, which advanced to the City finals before losing.
"This team would have the edge just because of the size, but this year the competition is a lot better," Harp said.
Said DiSimone: "I've seen us play better so I think we'll rise to the occasion if we make the final."
The Highlanders will play host to Roosevelt (13-2) in the semifinals Tuesday.