Oilers capture CIF-SS Division 1 boys' volleyball championship

Huntington Beach rallies for five-set win over Loyola on Saturday night.

May 19, 2013|By Mike Sciacca
  • Huntington Beach High volleyball players celebrate with their plaque after beating Loyola in a CIF Division 1 boys' volleyball championship match at Santiago Canyon College on Saturday.
Huntington Beach High volleyball players celebrate… (KEVIN CHANG, HB…)

ORANGE — Craig Pazanti cradled the championship plaque securely under his left arm while he wiped his brow with his right hand late Saturday at center court at Santiago Canyon College.

"I've been telling the kids all year, that I thought they were the best team," Pazanti said, the sweat he was still wiping away on occasion, the beads the result of an intense match his Huntington Beach High boys' volleyball team had just fought and survived.

Pazanti was proven right — his Oilers are the No. 1 team.

Huntington captured its first CIF Southern Section title in boys' volleyball in 19 years by twice rallying from a one-set deficit, to knock off Los Angeles Loyola in a five-set thriller, 26-28, 25-23, 19-25, 25-22, 15-10.

It was the program's first title since the school won back-to-back titles in 1993-94 under Rocky Ciarelli.

Pazanti, a graduate of Huntington, was an assistant coach to Ciarelli when the Oilers were repeat champs two decades ago.


"I'm in my dream job," Pazanti said of coaching at his alma mater. "Huntington hasn't won a title in 20 years, but we've always been successful, and that is because of Rocky.

"This is just incredible. I couldn't be more proud of these kids. We were down but we always fought back. To win this, win in Game 4, after we were handled in Game 3, is a testament to this team. Just incredible."

To win the program's third Division 1 title, Huntington, the No. 4 seed in the tournament, beat the Nos. 1 (Manhattan Beach Mira Costa) and 2 (Loyola) teams in four days. Saturday's victory put the Oilers to 31-2, took their match win streak to 21 and should all but assure them a first-round home match on Tuesday for the opening round of the CIF Southern California Division 1 Regional.

The only thing Huntington lost out on, was it had its streak of consecutive matches without losing a set in a best-of-five set match, snapped at 11.

The Oilers dropped the first and third sets to Loyola but played in control late in the fourth set and throughout the decisive set to defeat Loyola (30-3).

The Cubs finished as Division 1 runner-up for the second straight year. Last year, they lost out on the title to Mira Costa.

"This feels so good," said junior outside hitter TJ DeFalco whose block at the net from the left side on championship point in the fifth set gave Huntington a title-clinching, 15-10 win.

DeFalco, who previously had been home schooled, is in his first year at Huntington.

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