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Huntington Beach girls’ volleyball hangs on for five-set win at Beckman

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Huntington Beach’s Hannah Ledesma (11), Claire Robbins (9), Olivia Carlton (13) and Xolani Hodel (12) celebrate winning a point in Game 5 of a nonleague match at Beckman on Wednesday.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

After opening the season at the Ann Kang Invitational in Hawaii, the schedule has picked back up again for the Huntington Beach High girls’ volleyball team.

The Oilers have played as much volleyball as any team in the area so far, and at this point, they collectively believe that has been a good thing.

Huntington Beach utilized 12 players in going the distance in its nonleague match at Beckman on Wednesday night, part of another stretch in which the Oilers are playing three matches in three nights.

Senior setter Jaclyn Sanchez had 38 assists, five kills and 1½ blocks, and the Oilers held on for a 26-24, 25-16, 12-25, 22-25, 15-10 victory, their third in a row.

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Huntington Beach (7-3) will play its third match in three days when it travels to Orange Lutheran to take on the Lancers in the Trinity/Sunset Showcase on Thursday at 7 p.m.

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Huntington Beach's Mia Christensen digs a ball in a nonleague match at Beckman on Wednesday.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

“I honestly think that it has been really helpful because last year we were a really new team,” said Oilers senior libero Mia Christensen, a UC Riverside commit. “We didn’t get into the preseason until really late.

“This year, I think starting this out, it’s getting this group really comfortable with each other, and I think it’s going to help us out further down the road.”

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One of the new looks for the Oilers was the presence of junior setter Alex Williams on the floor in the fifth set, which allowed Sanchez to become a front-row hitting option while sending senior opposite Xolani Hodel to the back row to help on defense.

“It’s not a true 6-2 [offense],” Oilers coach Craig Pazanti said. “It’s just kind of modified to get [Williams] out there in two of the rotations. It definitely gives us a better offensive look. Jaclyn is one of our better attackers, so to let her get out there and swing at some balls is also great for the team.”

Sanchez wound up contributing three kills and six assists in the final game, finding junior middle blocker Olivia Carlton for three kills. Williams had 10 assists on the night.

“I love hitting,” Sanchez said. “It helps me relax in tense situations, and it helps me when I get a kill. I get super pumped up, so it’s a great way to have us relax.”

Sophomore outside hitter Claire Robbins had two of her three kills in the fifth set, including one that ended the match.

Hodel, who has committed to Stanford for beach volleyball, had a team-high 16 kills for the Oilers. Carlton added 11 kills and four blocks.

Senior outside hitter Sophia Altshuler and sophomore middle blocker Sydney Murrey each finished with eight kills, and sophomore outside hitter Lilian Perkins chipped in with seven kills for Huntington Beach.

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After what Pazanti characterized as a near “flawless” second set for his team, Beckman (3-3) got back into the match by getting more touches on the block.

“We have spent the last two and a half weeks blocking all day every day,” Patriots coach Darin McBain said. “We’ve been improving every single day in practice, and I was just waiting to see if it would translate.

“There are still some things that we’ve got to get better [with] at the net, but the improvement that we’ve made in the last couple of weeks is actually pretty remarkable.”

Outside hitter Haley Schroeder, a UC Santa Barbara commit, led Beckman with 18 kills, while opposite Emerson Wilford contributed 16 kills and 2½ blocks. Middle blocker Chloe Bristow also had 12 kills.

Setters Karli Rask and Chloe Lee had 23 assists and 16 assists, respectively.

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Huntington Beach's Xolani Hodel hits against Beckman's Caroline Llamas in a nonleague match in Irvine on Wednesday.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Trinity/Sunset Showcase

Thursday at Mater Dei

Newport Harbor vs. Mater Dei, 5 p.m.

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Edison vs. JSerra, 7 p.m.

Thursday at Orange Lutheran

Los Alamitos vs. Santa Margarita, 5 p.m.

Huntington Beach vs. Orange Lutheran, 7 p.m.

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