Soon, Huntington Beach homeowners will see a new banner in the Huntington Beach High School gym. It will be placed next to the boys volleyball team’s 1993 and 1994 CIF-SS championship ones, which were the last times the Oilers took the title. This year, however, the 2013 team recently won CIF after defeating Loyola of Los Angeles in five sets.
Before their match with Loyola, the Oilers had won 42 consecutive sets in best-of-5 matches. However, they nearly saw their 20-match winning streak broken after dropping two of the first three sets. Fortunately, the Oilers rallied back and were able to capture the CIF title. But despite finishing the season on a high, they still weren’t finished. Regionals beckoned, so the team had to refocus from their excitement.
When asked about their first practice after winning CIF, Huntington Beach coach Craig Pazanti said, “Practice on Monday wasn’t great. We had a talk and I said, ‘You’ve played so great this weekend (in CIF finals) and you guys have been given a great opportunity to finish and win your last match.’ Not many teams win their last match of the year and that’s kind of what our focus has been on.”
The team took Coach Pazanti’s words to heart, taking on San Clemente High School during the regional semifinal and besting them 25-20, 25-18, and 26-24. The team really was fired up for the game, with setter Matt Butler diving into the bleachers for a ball, TJ DeFalco scoring a match-opening ace, and more big plays.
Pazanti went on to say, “I said (to the team), ‘You won the first (CIF) championship and you set your legacy, but at the same time, you can be the first team ever in school history to win a state (regional) championship on the guys’ side.’ “
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