A month ago, the Ocean View High boys’ volleyball team rallied from a two-set deficit for a five-set home victory over Anaheim.
The Seahawks had avenged their first-round loss to the Colonists in the CIF Southern Section Division 4 playoffs from the year before, and they felt mighty fine about the direction of the team.
Ocean View has continued to be competitive during its Golden West League schedule, but it has not been nearly as fortunate in subsequent close matches.
Although it had taken at least a set in every league match coming into Thursday, Ocean View had gotten off to a slow start. A straight-sets loss to Godinez pushed the Seahawks’ season to the brink.
Luis Nieto had a match-high 14 kills, and the Grizzlies defeated the Seahawks 25-21, 25-19, 27-25 at Ocean View.
Nieto had started off slowly, producing just one kill against four hitting errors in the first set. Once he found his rhythm, he pounded out 13 kills with just two errors the rest of the way.
“Ultimately, it’s just get into the game,” Nieto said. “Focus. It’s all about focus. You best be on your game because you’re going to lose that game if you’re not completely focused.”
Johnny Zavala added 13 kills for Godinez (13-6, 5-1 in league), which has now forged a tie with Garden Grove (15-7, 5-1) for first place in the league.
“It was a little tough today,” said Grizzlies setter Nathan Escobedo, who finished with 17 assists, three kills and a service ace. “I think we got in our heads a little towards the end. We just need to focus on that, make sure that we’re not getting into our heads. We just need to play every point by every point.
“I think if we do that, then we’re going to do very well against [Garden] Grove.”
Godinez had more height than Ocean View (8-5, 1-4), and although it did not show up in the blocking numbers, the Grizzlies ran their offense with greater ease with their ability to slow the ball down.
“Usually, when it’s a bigger team than us, we try to be smarter,” Seahawks coach Joshua Nehls said. “It’s always the game plan is beat them by finding the spots versus just trying to rip it at a big block.
“We had seen a couple of open spots, and I pointed them out to them and said, ‘Hit them.’ Those that listened got them.”
Hunter Miller, a Briar Cliff University signee, had 17 assists, eight kills, three aces and two blocks to lead the Seahawks. He played a big role in Ocean View erasing four match points in Game 3, serving an ace to even the score at 24-24.
Back-to-back kills by Nieto and Cesar Anaya clinched the match for the Grizzlies.
The Seahawks held an extended meeting after the contest, and Miller revealed that four players — Jackson Petrovich, Kermel Anwell, Aimar Herrera and himself — were asked to give their thoughts on the match in front of the rest of the team.
Facing the fact that Ocean View now has as many league losses as it had all of last year, Miller knows that his team can ill-afford to lose another.
“I think [Nehls] chose us because he knows we can lead, and he knows that we believe that the season is not over,” Miller said. “I think fully, without a doubt, our season is not over yet. We can still make CIF in the third spot, if not the second, at a 6-4 record.”
Petrovich led the Seahawks with 10 kills. Christopher Haase, a Marina transfer who recently became eligible following the 30-day sit-out period, added seven kills.