Senior libero Tyler Bird hopes the Sea Hawks continue their season with a berth in the Southern California Regional playoffs. Photo by Ray Vidal
In a highly anticipated match, Redondo Union’s boys volleyball team did not have any answers for Huntington Beach’s high-power offense, falling to the visiting Oilers in three sets in the CIF Southern Section Division 1 semifinals Wednesday evening.
The first set gave the vocal crowd the feeling they were going to witness an epic match. There were 10 ties and five lead changes. The only time a team had a lead of more than two points was when Huntington Beach pulled ahead 24-21. Redondo fought back to make it a one-point game at 24-23 before the Oilers put it away.
The game inspired fourth-seeded Redondo (35-3) who proved they could hang with the nation’s top-ranked team, scoring the first six points in the second set.
Redondo held another six point lead at 17-11 before Huntington Beach tied the game at 19. The Sea Hawks had set-point with a 24-23 lead but a service error, a kill by TJ Defalco and an ace by Drake Evans gave the Oilers a two-game advantage.
The loss seemed to take the wind out of the sails for Redondo, who never led in the third set as Huntington Beach left its mark with 25-13 win.
Louis Richard led Redondo Union with nine kills against the nation’s top-ranked team. Photo by Ray Vidal
“Both teams played an A-plus game and that’s how the semifinals should be,” said Redondo Head coach Duncan Avery. “Ultimately, the better team won tonight. I couldn’t be more proud of our guys… how they fought, how they played. We had our opportunities in the first two games and I loved our chances to find a way to get them out of system.”
Louis Richard led Redondo with nine kills. Devon Burki recorded eight kills and three blocks. Vinny Pizzuti had six kills and Lucas Lossone added five kills. Setter Tanner Smith had 25 assists.
“The game was played at the top of the net,” Avery said. “You can’t take anything away from their left side with TJ (Defalco) and Brenden (Sander). We put two 6-foot-7 guys up against them and they were still hitting the ball down over them. That’s just good volleyball.”
Defalco, who finished with 17 kills, will join Richard, Pizzuti along with Huntington Beach setter Josh Tuaniga at Long Beach State in the fall.
As disappointing as the loss was for Redondo, the squad was already looking forward to a rematch which could happen in the CIF Southern California Division 1 Regional Championships.
Fourth-seeded Redondo traveled to face No. 5 Carlsbad on Tuesday with the winner advancing to face the Huntington Beach-Torrey Pines winner in the semifinals on Thursday, May 29 at 7 p.m. The finals will be held Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Cerritos College.
“I have a one-day rule that we don’t think about a match after that,” Avery said. “We were up big in the second set (against Huntington Beach) and saw it slip away so that’s going to sting a little bit for sure. We had our opportunities and had to take advantage of them. I told the team it’s not over yet. Beating a very good team twice in a row is tough.”
Vinny Pizzuti had six kills in Redondo’s semifinal loss to Huntington Beach. Photo by Ray Vidal
Richard, a four-year varsity starter, took the defeat hard.
“They’re a really good team,” Richard said. “They made it really tough on us. They served great and made us run around. We just need to practice hard and come back for State.”
Pizzuti was more upbeat after reflecting on his senior season.
“Bay League was fun, Hawaii was fun and CIF has been crazy,” Pizzuti said. “Huntington Beach is a good team and we didn’t have any answers to step up to their level. We’re going to have a good week of practice and come back hard in State. We’re definitely going to see these guys again.”
“It’s a tough loss but we played an A-plus game,” Lucas Lossone said. “They were just a little bit better than us tonight. Losing that second game was a downer for us.”
Top-seeded Huntington Beach (37-0) advanced to last Saturday’s championship match at Cerritos College where the Oilers defeated third-seeded Loyola 25-17, 20-25, 25-17, 25-10.
In Division 4, second-seeded Bishop Montgomery reached the finals for the second straight season with a 19-25, 32-20, 25-21, 25-23 home victory over Del Rey League rival and third-seeded La Salle.
But once again, the Knights fell to defending champion Cathedral 25-18, 25-20, 20-25, 25-22.
Peter Sarmiento finished with a team-high 15 kills. Drew Beimel added eight kills and five blocks, Justin Arevalo had 18 digs and Travis Pyrek had 40 assists.
Bishop Montgomery (20-9) earned the fourth seed in the CIF Southern California Division 3 Regional Championships and played at LACES on Tuesday with the winner advancing to Thursday’s semifinals to face the winner between top-seeded Laguna Beach and No. 8 Rancho Dominguez.