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    Huntington Beach girls volleyball sweeps Alemany in CIF-SS playoffs after tough opening set
    • October 19, 2023

    HUNTINGTON BEACH — The Huntington Beach girls volleyball team had to come from far behind to win an extended first set against Alemany in the opening round of pool play in Division 1 of the CIF SS playoffs on Wednesday at Huntington Beach High School.

    The comeback seemed to ignite the No. 3 seed Oilers, who then went on to sweep the No. 6 Warriors, 28-26, 25-16, 25-14.

    Huntington Beach (28-7), which plays in Pool B, will play host to Surf League rival Los Alamitos, the No.7 seed, on Tuesday.

    The Oilers swept the Griffins in their first match on Sept. 15 at Huntington Beach and came from two sets down to defeat the Griffins again on Oct. 3 at Los Alamitos.

    The Warriors (23-8), who finished in second place in the Mission League, will take on No. 2 Mira Costa on Tuesday at Mira Costa.

    “There’s always a concern,” Oilers coach Craig Pazanti said about his team trailing for nearly the entire first set. “But at the same time, this is a pretty veteran group. I mean, a lot of kids who have started for us for three years and I kind of give them a little bit more leeway than I would a young group. So I let them kind of find it and make their adjustment and they did a good job doing that.”

    Kills delivered mostly by Havyn Rolle helped the Warriors take a 19-14 lead in the opening set.

    The Oilers then went on a 6-2 run to get to within one point.

    Ellie Esko’s kill tied the score for Huntington Beach and then Kylie Leopard’s block gave the Oilers their first lead at 23-22.

    Huntington Beach then came within a point of losing the set twice before Haylee La Fontaine scored on a dump shot and then delivered a kill to the back row to win the first set for the Oilers.

    Huntington Beach’s Haylee LaFontaine led all players with 18 kills in a three-game sweep of Alemany in the opening round of pool play in the CIF-SS Division 1 playoffs Wednesday, Oct. 18. (Photo by Lou Ponsi)

    “Actually, after the game I went up to (Taylor Ponchak) and I said that was pretty clutch that we won (the first set),” said La Fontaine, who led all players with 18 kills. “Because if we didn’t win that, it would have been a longer game. So I think it was very important to win that first one.”

    Esko and Ponchak each had 11 kills for the Oilers and Ponchak assisted on four blocks.

    Setter Dani Sparks contributed to the victory with 40 assists.

    Rolle, Alanah Clemente and Gabi Pulishuk had eight kills each for the Warriors.

    Huntington Beach’s Taylor Ponchak had 11 kills and assisted on four blocks in the Oilers’ three-set victory over Alemany in the opening round of pool play in the CIF-SS Division 1 playoffs Wednesday, Oct. 18. (Photo by Lou Ponsi)

    The winner of Pool B will play the winner of Pool A for the Southern Section Division 1 championship on Nov. 4 at Cerritos College.

    If two teams finish in a tie, head-to-head result will be used to determine the winner.

    If there is a three-way tie, the total number of sets won divided by the total number of sets played in pool play would determine the winner.

    “That’s why that first-set win was important,” Pazanti said.

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    ​ Orange County Register