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Boys' Volleyball: Oilers collect SoCal Regional title

Huntington Beach edges Los Angeles Loyola again in five sets to add to its championship collection.

May 26, 2013|By Mike Sciacca
  • Huntington Beach boys' volleyball head coach Craig Pazanti stands next to his son Jake and his team as he holds up their first place CIF SoCal Regional State Division 1 championship plaque after defeating Loyola, 3-2, late Saturday night at Santiago Canyon College.
Huntington Beach boys' volleyball head coach Craig… (STEVEN GEORGES…)

ORANGE — When the field was set for the 2013 CIF Southern California Regional Division 1 boys' volleyball playoffs earlier in the week, Huntington Beach High Coach Craig Pazanti said he had asked his team to "finish things the right way."

The Oilers had just come off a title-clinching performance, but their season was not yet complete.

Pazanti got his wish Saturday.

One week after capturing its first CIF Southern Section Division 1 championship, Huntington returned to Santiago Canyon College and won its first CIF regional title by beating the same opponent, Los Angeles Loyola, it had defeated on this same floor on May 18. As was the case in that first meeting, the Oilers squeezed past the Cubs in five sets, winning by scores of 25-22, 20-25, 29-27, 20-25, 15-12.

Huntington was the No. 1 seed in the tournament, and finished what Pazanti had asked of his squad.

CIF regional champions.

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It has a nice ring to it, doesn't it?

"It sure does," Pazanti said. "This is amazing. When we won Game 3, I thought we were a team of destiny. The resiliency these guys showed tonight, was just amazing."

The turning point in the match was the third set. Loyola (32-4) was on the verge of taking a 2-1 lead in the match and had Huntington (34-2) all but put away. The Cubs on four occasions held an eight-point lead in the set, the final time at 21-13. They still were up 23-17 on a kill from junior middle blocker Cole Paullin. Then, things changed. Quickly.

Two shots that went out of bounds, and successive double contact calls against Loyola, with Huntington senior setter Matt Butler at the serve, drew the Oilers to within 23-21. The Cubs were at set point (24-23) when senior middle blocker Garrett Mohr sent another shot long. Suddenly, the score was tied. The Cubs again were at set point at 25-24, but outside hitter Hayden Boehle served into the net. Again, tied score.

The score was tied twice more and Huntington went into the lead for good when Loyola outside hitter Hagen Smith sent a shot into the next. The Oilers pulled out an improbable, 29-27 win when opposite Jackson Bantle, who had an outstanding match for the Cubs, was long on his shot.

"That's as good as any comeback I've ever seen as a coach," Pazanti said. "Down eight, with a rally score, and to come back and win, is almost unheard of. These guys just stuck it out, played hard and played together. It was unbelievable."

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