There was a good reason why nobody in Orange County wanted to play Dana Hills in the playoffs, and Tuesday, the Dolphins pushed second-seeded Laguna Beach within one point of elimination.
But the Artists fought off two match points and outlasted Dana Hills to win, 16-14, in the fifth game of a second-round Southern Section Division I boys' volleyball playoff match at Dana Hills High.
Laguna Beach's Dan Styles had 27 kills, and combined with Trevor Whalley to block Bob Hefty for match point in the 11-15, 17-15, 15-6, 15-17, 16-14 victory.
Beau Bianchi, who had 23 kills, spiked for a side out with Laguna Beach trailing 14-13, and a net violation by Hefty gave the Artists another side out when the Dolphins were serving at another match point.
Styles spiked for a point to tie it, 14-14, and Szilard Kovacs blocked Jeremy Darner to make it 15-14 and set up the match-winning block.
Laguna Beach (17-1) will play Santa Barbara in the the quarterfinals Friday. Dana Hills finished 12-5.
"I think that was our best match of the year," Dana Hills Coach Oz Simmons said, "so I think we can handle losing this one."
Early in the match, it looked like Laguna Beach would be looking for answers.
Darner had seven of his match-high 31 kills in the first game to help Dana Hills grab a 12-4 lead before finally winning the game, 15-11.
Neil Hewko (27 kills) and Hefty (19 kills, seven blocks) helped Dana Hills open an 11-4 lead in Game 2 before things started to go sour.
Dana Hills led 14-8 before the Artists rallied behind Styles and Kovacs, who had 15 kills and four blocks. Laguna Beach won nine of the last 10 points to win Game 2, 17-15.
"It was a streaky game," Laguna Beach Coach Michael Soylular said. "I just wanted our guys to stay mentally focused down the stretch."
Bianchi had five kills in Game 3, helping the Artists win easily, 15-6. Then Laguna Beach took an 8-1 lead in Game 4 and were poised to close out the match.
But Dana Hills fought back and won 13 of the next 14 points. Matt Clem, who had nine kills and nine blocks, blocked Whalley to give Dana Hills new life with a 17-15 victory in Game 4, but the Dolphins came up a point short.
In other Division I matches:
El Toro 3, Corona del Mar 0--Host El Toro, the top-seeded team, won, 15-8, 15-6, 15-6. The Chargers (16-1) advance to play Palos Verdes Peninsula Friday.
San Clemente 3, Los Angeles Brentwood 1--Visiting San Clemente won, 10-15, 15-10, 15-8, 15-11. The Tritons play Loyola Friday.
Santa Barbara 3, Newport Harbor 0--Mitch McCoy had 15 kills for Newport Harbor which lost, 13-15, 3-15, 10-15. Eric Vallely, who had 30 assists, and Ramy Shoukry each had six kills for host Santa Barbara (18-1). Newport Harbor finished 14-5.
In Division II:
Esperanza 3, Canyon 0--Mike Allison had 21 kills to lead Esperanza to a 15-9, 15-4, 15-12 victory. Jason Klems added 14 kills for visiting Esperanza (16-2), which advances to play South Torrance Friday.
Los Amigos 3, Upland 0--Kiet Tran had 28 kills and Brian Laske had 27 for Los Amigos (15-1), which won, 15-11, 15-10, 15-12. Los Amigos plays Thousand Oaks Friday.
In Division III:
Calvary Chapel 3, Pasadena Poly 0--Philip Schildts had 14 kills for host Calvary Chapel, which won, 15-1, 15-4, 15-3. Top-seeded Calvary Chapel (15-0) advances to Friday's quarterfinals.
Whittier Christian 3, Santa Fe Springs St. Paul 0--Third-seeded Whittier Christian won, 15-11, 15-11, 15-8, and advanced to play North Hills Los Angeles Baptist Friday.