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DeFalco extends Huntington Beach's reign
NORWALK – Before the streak took on a life of its own and became “The Streak,” the Huntington Beach boys volleyball team had to sweat out a pair of five-set victories over Loyola of Los Angeles to start the title run that the Oilers are currently on.
Saturday night, the Oilers were back in that same situation, this time against Corona del Mar.
Again, just like those nights in 2013, the Oilers looked to TJ DeFalco and he didn’t disappoint.
DeFalco shouldered the fifth-et load, recording eight kills of his 41 kills, to lead the Oilers to victory, 22-25, 25-15, 25-22, 26-28, 15-8, for their third consecutive CIF-SS title.
DeFalco finished with a .522 hitting percentage.
“His performance was absolutely amazing,” Huntington Beach coach Craig Pazanti said. “We’ve been so successful for three years, yet we haven’t swept anybody in the CIF finals. Everybody brings their best. When you get to this point, you’re never going to get a bad team on the other side of the net in Division 1.”
The Oilers (37-0) didn’t disguise their game plan in the fifth set. Setter Josh Tuaniga got the ball to DeFalco and he connected on the team’s first eight kills.
With the score 11-7, Tuaniga went away from DeFalco, connecting with Shane Holdaway, Alex Wolf and Ben Vaught to get the Oilers to championship point.
After a timeout, Tuaniga hooked up with DeFalco again to end the match.
“You could tell that he wanted the ball,” Pazanti said. “It didn’t matter if they knew where it was going. He had 41 kills and only six errors in five sets. He had an amazing, amazing night.”
Tuaniga knew where he wanted to go with the ball before the start of the final set.
"I know he's going to put balls down," Tuaniga said of DeFalco. "Before the game, I said hey, I'm going to ride you and I need you in this game. TJ was getting his hits and then I was able to spread it out.
"It is amazing every time he plays, but this one, when I needed to depend on him and finished every single time, it was like wow, this guy is crazy good."
Sean Morrissey added 14 kills for the Oilers. Blake Diamond led with 17 digs. Tuaniga had 63 assists.
“They (the senior class) just expect to win,” Pazanti said. “When you get guys like that on the court, it is easy for the other guys to jump in and go.”
The Oilers have now won 101 consecutive matches. They entered the match having lost just four sets all season.
CdM quickly added to that number by taking the first set. In the fourth, CdM fought off match point four times to force a fifth and deciding set.
“This team has shown a tremendous amount of heart,” CdM coach Steve Conti said. “This team has grown a bit in the last two-three years and we came across a really good team that has a very spectacular individual and he’s kind of hard to game plan for.
“More than anything, I’m proud of the way the guys fought. I think we gave them everything they could probably handle.”
Ryan Moss led the Sea Kings with 22 kills. Sam Kobrine and Kevin Fults had 12 and 11, respectively.
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