The Huntington Beach High girls’ volleyball team began its season with a five-set loss at home to Dana Hills.
A lot can change over the course of a season. What each team learned about the other was put to the test when they met for a rematch in the second round of the CIF Southern Section Division 2 playoffs on Saturday night.
Unfortunately for the Oilers, the inconsistencies of an up-and-down season crept into the postseason contest.
Stila Fresenius had a match-high 26 kills, as a late comeback bid by Huntington Beach fell short. The host Dolphins held on to defeat the Oilers 25-19, 25-10, 22-25, 25-23.
“It didn’t even look like we were ready to play,” Oilers coach Craig Pazanti said of the way the match started. “It was almost like they thought it was a 7 p.m. start instead of a 6 p.m. start.”
The Dolphins played on top of the net throughout the first two sets. Hunter Riedl and Fresenius delivered countless booming swings for the Dolphins (25-6).
“That’s kind of one of the things that we want to emphasize is taking big swings in clutch situations and getting teams to get back on their heels so that it opens up more floor in front of them,” Dolphins coach Gus Culver said of the aggressive swings taken by his hitters.
Fresenius added that precision serving played a part in her team’s ability to build an early lead, keeping the Oilers (14-13) out of system.
“We just go back there and kind of find what we’ve been working on in practice, [identifying] who doesn’t pass very well on the other team,” Fresenius said. “We just kind of go after them, and once we feel more comfortable, then we start going harder and harder.”
Drae Fresenius, a San Jose State commit, added 44 assists and two aces for Dana Hills.
The Oilers put up a better block in the third set, and it helped them get back into the match.
In Game 4, Huntington Beach fell behind 16-8, but a six-point run on Sophia Sola’s serve cut the deficit to 16-14. The Oilers finally earned a chance to tie the score by saving one match point, but Stila Fresenius’ 26th kill ended the match.
Sabrina Phinizy had 14 kills and 1½ blocks, Xolani Hodel added 10 kills, and Jaclyn Sanchez had 37 assists with three service aces for the Oilers. Olivia Carlton also had five kills and 2½ blocks.
“I was super proud of the effort that they put out there,” Pazanti said. “They easily could have quit after the second set, and they didn’t.”