Huntington Beach got the rotation it liked when it counted and that had a large hand in helping the host Oilers upset Anaheim Esperanza in a Sunset League boys’ volleyball match Friday night.
In a match worthy of two teams with lofty rankings, the 15-11, 8-15, 15-12, 15-12 result knotted Huntington Beach (10-2, 7-1), ranked fourth in the Southland by The Times, and Esperanza (13-2, 7-1), ranked third, atop the league standings with two games to play. Esperanza won the first meeting between the teams in four games on April 8.
“The difference was our role players,” Oiler Coach Rocky Ciarelli said. “We didn’t get a lot out of them in the first match.”
Friday’s match, which lasted more than two hours, came down to the fourth game. The Oilers were trailing, 10-5, before rallying to tie the score, 11-11, following a service ace from setter Brock Boyce.
Esperanza regained the lead when Tyler Rex blocked a hit by Brandon McLaughlin, but soon thereafter, Oiler outside hitter Kenny Markwardt, who finished with 19 kills, rotated into the front row for some additional firepower alongside Eric Eastman, who finished with 22 kills.
About the same time, Esperanza outside hitter Jayson Jablonsky, who had 34 kills, rotated into the back row.
Huntington Beach used that to its advantage.
The Oilers took the lead on two unforced Aztec errors. Then Markwardt buried a spike at the Aztec back line. Boyce, on what appeared to be a broken play, fooled the Aztec block for the match winner.
-- Paul McLeod
West Valley League champion Granada Hills was awarded the No. 1 seeding in the City Section boys’ volleyball playoffs during a seeding meeting Thursday night at Los Angeles Hamilton High.
The West Valley League, winner of the last five City Championship titles, also placed last year’s finalists among the top-seeded teams. Defending champion Chatsworth is No. 2 and runner-up Woodland Hills Taft is No. 4.
Los Angeles Marshall, which defeated L.A. Fairfax, for the Invitational title last year, is seeded No. 6 in the Championship Division.
First-round games in both divisions are Tuesday and the finals will be May 16 at Cal State Northridge.
-- Bob Rohwer
Westminster La Quinta pitcher Ian Kennedy returned Friday after missing more than six weeks because of a fractured kneecap.
Kennedy, who has committed to USC, pitched two innings, striking out three, and did not allow a hit in a six-inning, 25-0 victory at Garden Grove Santiago.
“He’s probably 70%, but 70% Kennedy is pretty good,” La Quinta Coach Dave Demarest said. “We’ll see what happens next week.”
Kennedy is expected to start either Wednesday or Friday against Garden Grove Bolsa Grande. Kennedy opened the season 2-0 with 23 strikeouts and one walk in 13 innings for La Quinta (21-2), ranked No. 2 in the region by The Times.
-- Mike Bresnahan
Nicole Johnson, a senior sprinter on the Westlake Village Westlake girls’ track and field team, was pronounced brain dead at Los Robles Regional Medical Center in Thousand Oaks on Friday, one day after sustaining a severe head injury when her car was rear-ended while waiting at a stoplight near school.
Richard Urias, the Westlake athletic director, was attending a boys’ tennis match at school when he said he heard a loud crash at approximately 4:30 p.m.
He was one of the first people to arrive at the scene and said that the car Johnson was driving had been pushed across the intersection of Thousand Oaks Boulevard and North Lakeview Canyon Road and into a light pole.
Funeral arrangements were pending Friday. Westlake will hold a memorial ceremony for Johnson at 3 p.m. on Monday.
-- John Ortega