After watching his team win the first two games against fourth-seeded North Hollywood Harvard-Westlake, Huntington Beach Cach Rocky Ciarelli knew the fast start was too good to be true.
Harvard-Westlake rallied to win Games 3 and 4, then took the Oilers to as close as two points of elimination before Huntington Beach responded by winning four consecutive points to win Game 5, 15-13, and win the Southern Section Division I boys' volleyball quarterfinal match Friday at Huntington Beach High.
The unseeded Oilers (19-2) advanced with a 15-5, 15-8, 7-15, 4-15, 15-3 victory. They will play top-seeded El Toro in the semifinals Wednesday. Harvard-Westlake ended 19-2.
Mike Grave had 28 kills, eight in Game 5, to lead Huntington Beach. But strong middle play from Nick Ziegler, who had 14 kills and five blocks, and Brad Simons helped key the Oiler victory.
Ziegler had nine kills and three blocks in Games 1 and 2, but was ineffective in Games 3 and 4.
Ziegler had one kill in Games 3 and 4, and Ciarelli benched Simon in both games in favor of Sean Tucker.
But nothing seemed to slow the Wolverine attack as setter Court Young, who had 94 assists, kept the Oilers off-balance, setting a variety of players.
Harvard-Westlake middle blocker Seth Rodsky had a match-high 29 kills. Pete Kiefer had 25 kills, Matt Sebree 19 and Ryan Hudson added 16 for the Wolverines, who never quit during the 2-hour-45-minute match.
"I told our guys after we got up, we have to stay in it," Ciarelli said. "Volleyball is like that where the momentum can swing . . . you can't let a team up."
Harvard-Westlake appeared to complete the comeback when Sebree blocked Grave to give the Wolverines a 13-11 lead in Game 5.
But Huntington Beach's Jeremy Bart, who had 13 kills, spiked for a point from the left side to end a long rally and put the Oilers a point down, 13-12.
Bart's spike seem to take a lot out of Harvard-Westlake. The Wolverines, who made few errors in Games 3, 4, and 5, committed three consecutive errors to help the Oilers to victory.
After Young inadvertently set the ball over the net and out of bounds to give Huntington Beach a 14-13 lead, Sebree shanked a pass on Grave's serve at match point.
While Huntington Beach fans mobbed the players on the Oilers' half of the floor, Harvard-Westlake's players sat on the floor in disbelief.
"I think since Jeremy, Nick, and Mike have all been in (the Section) playoffs before, that experience helped," Ciarelli said.
Jody-Cook Fisher had 13 kills for Huntington Beach and setter Josh Moss had 67 assists and five kills.