Allison Ciarelli was the hub around which the talented Huntington Beach girls' volleyball players revolved this season.
Ciarelli, a senior setter, made excellent decisions in distributing the ball to the Oilers' powerful hitters.
With precise sets and a calm demeanor, she led Huntington Beach to the its first Southern Section Division II-AA and state Division II championships. For those achievements, she has been named The Times Orange County girls' volleyball player of the year.
"We won because of balance. If you check our stat sheets, every [hitter] was probably within five or six sets of each other," said Huntington Beach co-coach Rocky Ciarelli, who also is Allison's uncle. "She mixes it up and it's tough to block against a team that mixes it up that well."
Remarkably, Ciarelli played club volleyball only during her freshman year.
Ciarelli's absence from the club circuit might be the reason many college coaches have overlooked her. But Ciarelli grew up in a volleyball family (Rocky's wife, Cammy, is a pro beach player and also the Oilers' co-coach) and she plays with maturity and skill beyond her years.
"[Allison] is the whole thing. She can block and she sets well and she's smart. It's not like she's just a good setter, she's a good volleyball player," Rocky Ciarelli said.
Ciarelli began playing volleyball in sixth grade and has played with a school team ever since. She also has competed in the high jump the last three years with the Oiler track team and she played basketball at Huntington Beach for two years.
"I just like being more active," she said. "I think I would get bored if I had to do volleyball all the time."
Nonetheless, Ciarelli is such an intuitive volleyball player that her Oiler coaches rarely told her where to set the ball this season.
"She pretty much knew. She had a plan and she was going to do it," Rocky Ciarelli said. "She's just a smart kid who did the right thing most of the time."
And sometimes, that's the most important thing.
ALL-COUNTY GIRLS' VOLLEYBALL
Huntington Beach, Sr.
A key component of the Oilers' Southern Section and state championship team. Atkinson not only is an effective hitter, but also is an excellent defensive player--she had 11 kills and 10 digs in the state final.
Dana Hills, Jr.
Bari, South Coast League MVP, can control a match with her athleticism. She led Dana Hills to a 19-4 record, the league title and the quarterfinals of the Southern Section Division I-AA tournament.
Fountain Valley, Sr.
Carter hits the slide better than any other player in the county and also plays excellent defense. She led Fountain Valley to the Southern Section Division I-A final and to the second round of the state Division I tournament.
Huntington Beach, Sr.
Ciarelli's excellent decisions and precise sets gave Huntington Beach a balanced and potent attack and she led the Oilers to the Southern Section Division II-AA and state Division II championships.
Laguna Beach, Sr.
An excellent all-around player, Kittell averaged 15 digs per match in playoffs and also was an effective blocker. The Artists won the Southern Section Division I-AA title and advanced to the Southern Regional final.
The UCLA-bound Nihipali has been among the county's best middle blockers for two seasons. With excellent blocking skills and quick lateral movement, she led the Aztecs to the Southern Section Division I-AA semifinals.
Coach of the Year
First-year coach Gentry brought a new offensive style and led the county's smallest public school to the Southern Section's premier title and the Southern Regional Division I final. She had one player over 6 feet.
THE SECOND TEAM
Carla Miali (Fountain Valley, Sr.)
Setter / Intelligent player who reads the block well.
Jessica Sudduth (Esperanza, Sr.)
Outside Hitter / Intense athlete. Played with a shoulder injury.
Summer Altice (Fountain Valley, Sr.)
Outside Hitter / An exciting player with a blistering jump serve.
Kelly Garner (Laguna Beach, Sr.)
Outside Hitter / Athletic player who led team in digs and aces.
Julie Hinsche (Huntington Beach, Sr.)
Middle Blocker / Intimidating blocker and Division II MVP.
Jill Overby (Calvary Chapel, Sr.)
Middle Blocker / Provided a tall block for the state finalists.