In the halls of Huntington Beach High, where winning volleyball teams are a matter of course, Evan Hook was given a crash course in Oiler Attitude last year.
Happily, he failed.
Hook won only eight matches playing for Los Alamitos his sophomore year in 1994 before transferring to Huntington Beach that summer.
After Huntington Beach swept Ocean View in three games in its 1995 season opener, Hook leaped in the air, whooping and hollering.
"Everybody else at Huntington Beach [is] just so used to winning, and I was just fired up because I wasn't used to beating a team by that much, " Hook said. "Everybody else thought I was crazy, but it just felt good."
While Hook celebrated, the other Oiler players calmly collected their things.
"The rest of the guys were looking at him like, 'What's wrong with this guy?' " Huntington Beach Coach Rocky Ciarelli said.
The Oilers have high standards--they advanced to the Southern Section Division I final in 1992 and won titles in 1993 and 1994. For many Huntington Beach players, groomed from the time they are young for top college programs, winning is routine.
Not for Hook.
"He's just kind of a fire-up guy," Ciarelli said. "They were kind of a mellow bunch last year so they needed somebody like that."
With Hook providing a spark off the bench, Huntington Beach tied for the Sunset League championship and advanced to the section quarterfinals.
The Oilers lost two key players from last season, Jeremy Bart, a first-team, all-section selection who currently is playing for Stanford, and Jody Cook-Fisher, a first-team, all-league selection who currently is playing for UC Santa Barbara.
Despite the loss of Bart and Cook-Fisher, the Oilers are expected to do well this season because of their depth and experience. Setter Greg Markham, a second-team all-league selection last season, is their only returning starter, but their roster has seven seniors and seven juniors.
"Our bench, in the Sunset League, could beat almost any other team," Hook said. "When we play against them it's just like playing a normal game."
Hook, a second-team all-league selection last season as a reserve, will replace Cook-Fisher at starting outside hitter. Hook's ascent to a starting position is remarkable considering this is his third year playing the sport.
Before he became interested in volleyball, Hook mostly surfed and played in his backyard--which was more than just a patch of grass.
In 1992, Hook's father, John, helped him build a U-shaped, wooden, skateboarding ramp called a half-pipe. That same year, Hook and his half-brother, Ethan Swift, persuaded their mother, Virginia Swift, to buy them a trampoline as a Christmas present.
Suddenly, Hook's backyard was like an amusement park. With free admission.
"It was kind of a problem because we would come home and there would be kids we didn't even know in our backyard," he said.
In the summer of 1993, Hook started playing volleyball with a friend at a park near his home. Once they felt their skills were adequate, they hit the sand courts at the Huntington Beach Pier.
Hook quickly discovered that adequate was not good enough for the competitive games at the pier.
"We were so bad, we would go on the court that was the furthest away from the pier. It's where what they call the 'picnic players' play," Hook said. "I kept going every day and gradually kept getting better and gradually worked my way up to the better courts."
Hook moved with his mother to Huntington Beach before his junior year. The proximity to the pier courts allowed him to practice daily.
"Every day, rain or shine, he is out there playing beach volleyball and that has helped him quite a bit," Ciarelli said.
Another thing that has helped Hook is practicing often with his friend, Katie Lindquist, who helped the Ocean View girls' team to the section Division IV semifinals and was selected first-team all-section.
Although Hook has improved greatly in the past year with Huntington Beach, he remains unaccustomed to winning.
"It still hasn't sunk in yet that I am with such a good team," he said.
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Boys' Volleyball at a Glance
Top players: Jon Alleman, Esperanza, middle blocker, Jr.; Kevin Allen, Valencia, middle blocker, Sr.; Rick Black, Valencia, outside hitter, Sr.; Cory Chandler, Aliso Niguel, middle blocker, Jr.; Donald Chen, University, middle blocker, Sr.; Brian Coleman, Corona del Mar, outside hitter, Sr.; Jared Dannis, Woodbridge, middle blocker, Jr.; Justin DeBlasio, Santa Margarita, outside hitter, Jr.; Ryan Ellis, Foothill, outside hitter, Sr.; Dan Harrington, Esperanza, outside hitter, Jr.; Evan Hook, Huntington Beach, outside hitter, Sr.; Blair Hoppe, Corona del Mar, outside hitter, Jr.; Kevin Jackley, Valencia, outside hitter, Sr.; James Kimball, Laguna Beach, middle blocker, Sr.; David Kitashima, El Modena, setter, Sr.; Stuart Lambourne, Foothill, middle blocker, Sr.; Jason Mandall, Calvary Chapel, outside hitter, Sr.; Jamie Mann, Laguna Hills, setter, Sr.; Greg Markham, Huntington Beach, setter, Sr.; Jon Marshall, Laguna Hills, outside hitter, Sr.; Tony Marusich, Servite, middle blocker, Sr.; Matt Mauney, El Toro, middle blocker, Sr.; Cory Myers, Marina, outside hitter, Sr.; Nate Morton, Calvary Chapel, middle blocker, Sr.; Trey Nelson, Santa Margarita, outside hitter, Sr.; Bob Nguyen, Orange, middle blocker, Sr.; Ted Norman, Ocean View, outside hitter, Sr.; Christian Ponce, Servite, setter, Sr.; Asher Schular, Valencia, outside hitter, Sr.; Chris Seiffert, Capistrano Valley, setter, Sr.; Greg Shagam, Aliso Niguel, outside hitter, Jr.; Scott Shibata, University, setter, Sr.; Brandon Taliaferro, San Clemente, setter, Sr.; Glenn Tanner, Ocean View, middle blocker, Sr.; Bryan Todd, Aliso Niguel, opposite hitter, Sr.; Mike Tully, Capistrano Valley, outside hitter, Sr.; Hau Vo, La Quinta, setter, Sr.; Trevor Whalley, Laguna Beach, outside hitter, Sr..
League favorites: Century: Foothill; Empire: El Dorado; Garden Grove: La Quinta; Golden West: Ocean View; Olympic: Calvary Chapel; Pacific Coast: Laguna Beach; Sea View: Santa Margarita; South Coast: Capistrano Valley; Sunset: Huntington Beach.
1995 final poll: 1. Laguna Beach; 2. Fountain Valley; 3. Huntington Beach; 4. Tustin; 5. Irvine; 6. San Clemente; 7. Capistrano Valley; 8. El Toro; 9. Esperanza; 10. Calvary Chapel.
1996 preseason poll: 1. Capistrano Valley; 2. Huntington Beach; 3. Santa Margarita; 4. Corona del Mar; 5. San Clemente; 6. Laguna Beach; 7. Esperanza; 8. Newport Harbor; 9. Fountain Valley; 10. Calvary Chapel.
Key dates: March 15-16, Orange County Championships at Marina High; May 25, Southern Section finals at Cypress College.
Notes: Esperanza, which returns five starters from last year, is expected to be strong. Defending Division II champion Tustin returns no starters from last season, and Division II runner-up Calvary Chapel returns three starters.