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Huntington Beach rallies to win Sunset League title
NEWPORT BEACH – The goals for the top-ranked Huntington Beach boys volleyball had to be adjusted throughout Friday's match against sixth-ranked Newport Harbor.
"After we lost the first game, it was OK, we'll win it four," senior outside Edgar Palos said. "After we lost the second game, we had to win in it five."
Eventually, that's just what Palos and the Oilers did.
Huntington Beach (20-3, 9-0) rallied from a 0-2 hole, to win the final three games to take the match, 21-25, 21-25, 26-24, 25-20, 15-13 to clinch the outright Sunset League title.
The Oilers entered the match, perfect in the league, having swept their first eight games, including the first meeting against Newport Harbor, April 3.
That streak ended early.
"We knew coming in here, that they (Newport Harbor) would give it everything they had in their home gym," Huntington Beach coach Craig Pazanti said. "I would love to win three straight all the time, but I think we've been tested late in the year and hopefully, we'll be able to recall on that later in the playoffs and be able to use it."
Pazanti pointed out the passing as the reason for the slow start for the Oilers.
"We just didn't pass the ball," he said. "We have to get our middles involved. We have four options on every play and if we don't pass the ball, we become one dimensional.
"As we got into game three, we started passing the ball better. Guys like Bert Peyton and Brendan Sander, did a really nice job for us."
Despite their comeback, the Oilers were still close to defeat in the fifth game. Newport Harbor led 13-11 after a service error.
The Oilers would go on and score the final four points to end the match.
"This team doesn't quit," Pazanti said. "I think the struggles that we had last year with a young group these guys have a little chip on their shoulders.
"In that hostile environment, I think that they felt like they had something to prove."
Andrew TenBrink led The Oilers with 11. Zach Gates, Palos, Peyton and Sander all had nine apiece.
Setter Matt Butler had 42 assists.
"We used the league title as our motivation," Palos said. "We didn't want to lose and that drove us.
"Every point is crucial. It could come down to a missed serve or missed block. The first two games, our passing wasn't going well. We kept pushing through."
Clay Carr led Newport Harbor with 22 kills. Kevin Rakestraw had 13. The match was the second consecutive five-game match for the Sailors.
"The great thing about a match like this in our league is you have that playoff atmosphere against a great team," Newport Harbor coach Steve Astor said. "All leagues don't get that chance to play a big match like that.
"I told the guys there's no reason to hang our heads. We played well, they have a little bit more experienced at this level and maybe that showed, if anything else. They hung in there at the end and made a few more plays."