Dana Hills' Nick Karnazes, center, and Jake Lorscheider put up a double block against a hit by San Clemente's Brandon Hopper during Thursday's South Coast League match between the two teams.

Dana Hills finishes off San Clemente this time


DANA POINT - Last season, jumping out to a 2-0 lead against San Clemente was not enough for the Dana Hills boys volleyball team.

In both instances last year, San Clemente overcame those deficits to grind out a pair of 3-2 victories.

New season, new results.

After battling out two close sets, the No. 4 Dolphins broke away midway through the third set and held on to sweep No. 3 San Clemente, 30-28, 26-24, 25-19, in a South Coast League match at Dana Hills High.

“We had a monkey on our back after last year,” Dolphins coach Oz Simmons said. “I didn’t want to win the first two sets, but the guys played smart all the way through. San Clemente is so tall and physical, but we did a good job of controlling the net.”

The Dolphins (16-1, 3-0) played organized and limited errors, but more importantly, didn’t panic when San Clemente (15-3, 1-1) made pushes late in sets.

Outside hitters Grady Yould and Teddy Fitzgerald led the Dolphins with 12 kills each, while Nicholas Karnazes tallied 46 assists.

“We have pretty solid ball control and we play good defense,” Simmons said. “I think we did a better job of passing tonight and that helps because, aside from the middles, we don’t have a lot of size. We have to make up for that with our passing.”

After escaping with the win in Game 1, the Dolphins found their stride midway through Game 2, using a 6-1 run to break open a 11-11 tie. Libero Jacob Freeman helped with two service aces, while Karnazes found Harrison Stapley for a pair of kills.

But the Tritons retaliated late with a pair of blocks by Matt August and two kills by opposite Aaron Strange. A service ace by Brandon Hopper tied the score at 24-24.

However, the Dolphins stayed composed and took the final two points on kills by Stapley and Fitzgerald to take a 2-0 lead.

The Tritons struggled with errors out of the gate in Game 3, while midway through the set, middle blocker Jake Lorscheider padded an early lead with his blocking and a pair of kills.

Karnazes and Yould were key down the stretch in capping the sweep.

The Dolphins have not dropped a set in the South Coast League and in 17 matches, have only dropped three sets this season.

“We had opportunities, but they hung right with us,” Tritons coach Ken Goldstone said of the first set. “We have to find ways to win those close points against them. That’s a pretty good team, it’s hard to come back in five like we did last year. We can’t count on that every year.”

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