Huntington Beach players celebrate their victory against Santa Margarita Catholic High in the quarterfinals of the CIF-SS Division volleyball playoffs.

Huntington Beach slips past Santa Margarita, reaches 1AA semifinals


Huntington Beach’s Camryn Sanchez had tears in her eyes after the final point was recorded Saturday night, but tears of joy are always welcomed.

Sanchez and the Oilers appeared on the verge of being forced to a fifth and deciding set in their CIF-SS Division 1AA quarterfinal against Santa Margarita, but a pair of solo blocks from Madelyn Kaprelyan helped the Oilers end the match, 25-13, 25-21, 19-25, 25-23 to advance to the semifinals.

The Oilers (26-8) will be making their first semifinal appearance since 2009 when they visit top-seeded Redondo Union on Tuesday. This will be their first trip to the semifinals in Division 1AA since the late 1990s.

This was the third match between the two teams and the first victory for the Oilers.

“We tried so hard to get here and that’s how we play, we haven’t been playing like that in the past two games,” Sanchez said. “I’m really proud of my team.”

Santa Margarita found its groove in the third set and led 19-13 in the fourth, forcing Huntington Beach coach Craig Pazanti to take his final timeout.

“They were freaking out a little bit,” Pazanti of his team. “I’m like, we’ve been tested. It is a good thing to play those matches, as long as you win.

“I told them let’s not wait for set five, let’s make a move and see what happens. They’ve been resilient all year long, they’ve never quit.”

The Oilers didn’t catch the Eagles until a block by Julia Jackson, making the score 21-21.

Later, with the score tied 23-23, Kaprelyan’s first block gave the Oilers match point and forced Santa Margarita into a timeout. On the next Eagles swing, Kaprelyan delivered again, giving the Oilers the victory.

“We played much better tonight than in the first two (playoff) matches,” Pazanti said. “The other teams played great, but we didn’t pass the ball great in the first two rounds.

“We passed the ball much better tonight and that’s the key for us. We don’t have one kid that we’re going to set 100 balls. The key for us to be successful is to pass the ball, diversify the offense and make sure we’re keeping everybody involved.”

The balance was certainly evident against the Eagles.

Sanchez led the attack with 20 kills, Kierra Pearson had 18, Kaprelyan and Hanna Russell had 11 and 10, respectively.

The Eagles were the fourth seed in the division. McClure led the way with 16 kills. Haley Carmo and Julianna Reisinger had 11 and 10, respectively.

“They came ready to play and we came ready to react to them,” Santa Margarita coach Katy Daly said. “I don’t think we successfully ran our right side and middles tonight, we put too much pressure on Meghan (McClure).

“This was a great environment to play in, but as coaches we were that kind of player that we thrived in this environment, so it is hard to sit back and watch them be reactive, but I have to give them (Huntington Beach) props, they played very well together and they played a great match.”

Also in Division 1AA:

Mater Dei 3, Mira Costa of Manhattan Beach 1: Rachel Ritchie led the host Monarchs with 20 kills and Shannon Scully had 10, with 21 digs and five blocks in the 19-25, 25-20, 29-27, 26-24 victory.

Mater Dei will host Great Oak of Temecula in the semifinals on Tuesday. Great Oak defeated Corona del Mar 25-21, 21-25, 26-24, 25-22 in a quarterfinal match.

In Division 1A:

Trabuco Hills 3, San Marcos 0: The Mustangs advanced to the semifinals with a 25-17, 25-13, 25-15 home victory. Allie Kantor led the Mustangs with 18 kills. The Mustangs will take on second-seed Santiago of Corona in the semifinals.

In Division 2A:

Laguna Beach 3, Mayfield of Pasadena 0: Jamie Robbins had 15 kills and Cameron Dorn and Sage Patchell had eight and six, respectively, to lead the host Breakers (22-10) to a 25-18, 25-8, 26-24 victory.

Laguna Beach will be making its 27th appearance in the CIF-SS semifinals. The Breakers will take on Village Christian in the semifinals.

In Division 3AA:

St. Margaret’s 3, Highland 1: The Tartans advanced to the semifinals with their 22-25, 25-17, 25-22, 25-17 home victory. Gabby Benck led the Tartans iwth 26 kills. Gracyn Benck and Bri Vandenberg had 13 and nine kills, respectively.

The Tartans will face Santa Monica in the semifinals.

In Division 3A:

Saddleback Valley Christian 3, San Gabriel 0: The top-ranked Warriors advanced to the semifinals with a 25-15, 25-22, 25-16 home victory. Shannon Geraty led the Warriors with 17 kills. Skyler Stratton had 23 digs.

SVC will visit Loma Linda Academy in the semifinals.

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