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Huntington Beach boys’ volleyball wins at Edison

If Huntington Beach High’s young boys’ volleyball team can find the requisite consistency, it has a chance in the CIF Southern Section’s most competitive league and toughest division. That’s a big part of the battle the Oilers face as the most important matches loom.

Coach Craig Pazanti’s squad offered an example in a 25-16, 28-26, 16-25, 25-18 Sunset Conference crossover victory Wednesday night at Edison, outclassing the Chargers in the first and last sets while struggling in between. There were lessons provided within.

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Huntington Beach (18-4), ranked fifth in the CIF Southern Section Division 1 and 2 poll, prevailed thanks to Nico Colburn’s superb hitting — from the left side and deeper spots, especially — Aidan Knipe’s setting, Mark Aparicio’s defensive work and Trent Douphner’s perseverance at the net, but it didn’t come simply.

The Oilers were in charge in the first set, rallied in the second, disappointed in the third, then put it together at the finish.

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Huntington Beach High's Cayman LaFontaine (2) celebrates a point with teammates during the fourth set of a Sunset Conference crossover match on Wednesday.
Huntington Beach High's Cayman LaFontaine (2) celebrates a point with teammates during the fourth set of a Sunset Conference crossover match on Wednesday. (Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

“I liked our resiliency,” Pazanti said after Huntington Beach extended its winning streak to 14 matches against everyone except top-ranked Newport Harbor. “We got our butts kicked in the third set, and it’s easy to kind of put your head down when that happens. But to come back and play harder in the third set [was impressive].”

The Oilers have two more crossover matches — Friday against Marina and March 27 at Fountain Valley — before the running what Pazanti called the Surf League “gauntlet,” against Newport Harbor, No. 5 Corona del Mar and No. 12 Laguna Beach.

“I think we’ve got a long way to go,” he said. “There’s not that much time left in the season, we’re getting closer and closer, but we’ve been pretty successful over the last few weeks, and we’ve got to keep getting better.”

Edison (12-8), which is 1-8 against top-12 Division 1 and 2 teams, overcame a slow start to provide keen opposition, greatly through the defensive effort of libero Cole Power and some deft play by outside hitters James Carpenter and Caden Satterfield. More consistent setting might have produced an upset.

“It took us a little while to get going. It took us a little bit to wake up. We were the slower group tonight,” first-year Chargers coach Elias Perez said. “Huntington was ready from the get-go, they were a little scrappier on defense, they had a little more edge tonight, and we had a tough time matching their defensive intensity.”

Edison High's James Carpenter, left, hits against Huntington Beach during the fourth set of a Sunset Conference crossover match on Wednesday.
Edison High's James Carpenter, left, hits against Huntington Beach during the fourth set of a Sunset Conference crossover match on Wednesday. (Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

Huntington Beach finished with a 10-2 run to capture the first set, then let a pair of four-point leads disappear in a back-and-forth second set that featured 16 ties. Edison had two game points and faltered at the finish, with Carpenter serving into the net, followed by an out-of-rotation call that left the Oilers serving for the win.

Edison was dominant in the third set, running to 6-1 and 12-8 leads and using a 12-4 finish to win.

“I think we were mentally kind of not there in the third set ...,” said Colburn, who led Huntington Beach with 15 kills. “I think [winning the second set] was kind of a relief for us, but we got overconfident in the first set, and it just went downhill from there to the third set.”

Douphner, who came off the court with a foot injury in the first set, returned big in the fourth, making some key plays after Satterfield blocked him three times in a row at the net. The Oilers ran off nine straight points to take command, let Edison close within three points four times, then scored the final four points.

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