Ocean View High coach Joshua Nehls may be experiencing a strong case of déjà vu.
In the spring, Nehls watched a minor miracle occur as his boys’ volleyball team rallied from a 1-4 start in Golden West League play. The Seahawks went on to run the table in the second half, reach the CIF Southern Section Division 5 playoffs as the league’s No. 3 seed, and advance to the semifinals.
The Ocean View girls’ volleyball team also made the Division 7 semifinals in 2018, but that run was far less surprising. The Seahawks entered the playoffs as the No. 4 seed after going undefeated in winning the Golden West League title.
Five key rotation players no longer play for the Ocean View girls’ volleyball team, including graduated seniors in middle blocker Helen Reynolds (league MVP), outside hitter Jillian Pratt, libero Kelli Greiner and opposite Cambria Adams.
Those players proved hard to replace, especially as Ocean View challenged itself but did not secure a set in three matches against Sunset Conference opponents (Fountain Valley, Huntington Beach and Marina) and one against Trinity League foe Orange Lutheran.
Ocean View fell deeper into the hole, winning just three matches during its nonleague and tournament schedule.
Once again, however, the Seahawks have flipped the switch with their season on the line in league play.
Junior opposite Dana Abascal had 19 kills to lead Ocean View to a 25-18, 26-24, 25-18 sweep of Segerstrom at home on Tuesday.
While the expectations are not as high as they were last season for the Seahawks, Abascal said she has put pressure on herself to make sure the Seahawks are not overlooked.
“There is definitely a lot of pressure, but it is really exciting to know that I can make a real impact,” Abascal said.
Ocean View (9-12, 6-2 in league) can finish no worse than third place, meaning it has qualified for the Division 5 playoffs. The Seahawks came into Tuesday two matches back of Garden Grove (17-7, 7-0) for first place in the league.
Junior setter Katelyn Taylor had 29 assists and five kills, while senior libero Alyson Nguyen had four service aces and three assists for the Seahawks.
“We’re just lucky that they got to see what hard work looked like before those other players graduated,” Nehls said. “Now, hopefully that keeps that going, that the freshmen and sophomores are seeing those [upperclassmen]. Luckily, Katelyn and Dana are only juniors, so we still have them for another year.
“We can keep seeing what hard work looks like, and keep trying to keep that going.”
Nguyen played primarily at setter last season, but with the graduation of Greiner, the Seahawks needed a libero. She took the job, and she continues to try to get to every ball that she can. As Ocean View navigated the conclusion of a tight second set, Nguyen looked as though she wanted to cover the entire back row by herself.
“It’s all about the competition,” Nguyen said. “When you want the ball, you’re going to do anything to get it, and because it’s my senior year, I’m just doing everything that I can to get the win with my teammates.
“I know it looked like I was going in front of other people, but it’s all about the heart. I was just trying to push towards the end to get that win.”
Segerstrom (6-25, 2-6) was led by Arianna Carbajal, who had six kills. Natalie Gonzalez added four kills and two aces.
Seahawks sophomore outside hitter Ava Arce had five kills, and sophomore middle blockers Emma Santy and Scarlett Russ had four kills and three kills, respectively.
Sophomore outside hitter Karlee Caldwell had two kills and sophomore opposite Destiny Abascal added two aces.
“I definitely think we’re back in the game,” Taylor said. “I think that pressure is starting to get put on us because we have been winning. I think our goal is to go farther than we did last year.
“It’s going to be a struggle, but I think we can do it if we work together, practice hard and just push.”
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