A year ago, the Huntington Beach High girls’ volleyball team played Santa Margarita four times. The first three went to the Oilers.
In the fourth match, the one that meant much more than the previous three, Huntington Beach figured out the Eagles in the quarterfinals of the CIF Southern Section Division 1AA playoffs.
Santa Margarita (10-2) was the third Trinity League school to take down a Sunset League opponent on the night. The Eagles put away the Oilers early, scoring the first six points in the opening set to hand Huntington Beach its first setback of the season.
“We start the match with our four-year starter [Ashley Stevens] missing a serve, and that kind of maybe set the tempo,” Huntington Beach Coach Craig Pazanti said. “We barely got a chance to practice yesterday, just because we went five games late Monday night in the finals of that Lakewood tournament.
“We were destined for a little bit of a letdown. I didn’t think it was going to be this bad. They served tough and they got us out of our system. We’ve got a big, long week ahead of us. We’ve got to play at Trabuco [Hills on Thursday] and then the [Dave Mohs] Orange County Championships [on Friday and Saturday]. We’ve got six, seven or eight matches in six days.”
One thing is for sure, one of those teams Huntington Beach (7-1) won’t run into at the OC Championships is Santa Margarita.
The Eagles decided not to participate in the tournament as they did last year, when they beat the Oilers en route to winning the tournament. Coach Katy Daly said there is a reason for them not to return to defend their title. Instead, Santa Margarita plans to compete at the Durango Fall Classic in Las Vegas on Sept. 16-17 and at the California Challenge in San Diego on Oct. 7-8.
“We play most of the top teams in this area in preseason anyways, so to play [a team like the Oilers multiple] times and then to see them in CIF, they know our number, they know what’s going on,” Daly said.
Ten months after the four-set loss in the playoffs to Huntington Beach, the Eagles returned to the same site. They dominated.
Stanford-bound outside hitter Meghan McClure led the way for Santa Margarita with 11 kills and sophomore opposite Sarah Ciszek added 10. Setter Devon Chang amassed 34 assists, four service aces and three kills.
Cami Sanchez had eight kills for the Oilers, who fell short of becoming the second Sunset League team to knock off Santa Margarita in seven days. Edison upset the Eagles, 25-22, 16-25, 25-20, 26-24, last week.
“They beat us in three [sets] last year, too,” Pazanti said of the Eagles. “We’re looking to be the best we can be in November [during the postseason]. If we can use this as motivation, they beat us in three sets at their place last year, but we got them in the playoffs.”