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Boys' volleyball: Oilers advance to face Loyola in final

May 16, 2013|By Mike Sciacca

And the sweep goes on.

When Huntington Beach fell behind by six points late in the first set of Wednesday's CIF Southern Section Division 1 boys' volleyball semifinal match with Manhattan Beach Mira Costa, the Oilers were in danger of having their straight-sets win streak snapped.

Not only that, but a first set loss to the top-ranked Mustangs would force the No. 4-seeded Oilers to play catch-up the remainder of the match.

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Danger averted.

Huntington regrouped after falling behind, 19-13, in that first set, and stormed back with an incredible rally that produced an eventual, 25-23 win. The comeback ignited a spark under the Oilers, who never looked back.

It was a comeback that seemed to stun Mira Costa, and the Mustangs never recovered. They led from time to time in the final two sets, but it was Huntington that had the finishing touch both sets.

Backed by a strong home crowd, Huntington rose to the occasion and knocked off the defending champion Mustangs, 25-23, 29-27, 25-23. The triumph catapulted the Oilers (30-2), who are on a 20-match win streak, on to Saturday's Division 1 final. They will face No. 2-seed Loyola at 7:30 p.m. at Santiago Canyon College in Orange.

The Cubs on Wednesday survived No. 3-seed San Clemente, 30-28, 22-25, 28-26, 35-33, in the other intense Division 1 semifinal.

It will be Huntington's first appearance in a Southern Section final since 1994, and the program's fourth title game appearance, overall.

Huntington previously played for a CIF title in three consecutive seasons (1992-94).

"We've been working four years for this," said 6-foot-6 senior opposite Zach Gates, who, along with sophomore outside hitter TJ Deface, had 14 kills for the Oilers. "This is an incredible win, and we are so stoked for Saturday. If we play our game, we win."

"This was a gritty effort by our team," Huntington Coach Craig Pazanti said. "To be down 19-13 in the first set, and come back and win, really gave our guys the confidence to push through tonight."

Huntington was up, 8-7, in the first set when Mira Costa (32-3) went on an 8-1 tear, to open up a 15-9 lead. A kill by middle blocker Scott Stephanoff, one of six senior starters for Mira Costa, gave the Mustangs their biggest lead (19-13) in the set.

"I just told them not to give up," Pazanti said, referring to a time-out pep talk he gave his squad after it got down six points. "We knew we were going to be in a fight, it was time to respond, and they did.

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