By Zach Cavanagh

DANA POINT – For a while, it looked like the win for the Dana Hills girls volleyball team was going to be clinical. The Dolphins got a push back from Huntington Beach, but Dana Hills’ talent won out.

Dana Hills cruised in the first set and dominated the second set before Huntington Beach ground out the third set, but the Dolphins went ahead big in the four set and hung on for the victory, 25-19, 25-10, 22-25, 25-23, in a CIF-SS Division 2 second round match at Dana Hills High School.

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“I think in the first two games, we were serving the ball really well and hitting our spots,” Dana Hills coach Gus Culver said, “and it really made a difference. The second thing is in the third and fourth game, (Huntington Beach) started really passing the ball better, which involved more hitters which made it more difficult to defend them.”

When it became difficult, the Dolphins stuck with their heavy hitters. Stila Fresenius knocked in six of her team-high 26 kills in the fourth set, and Hunter Reidl put down five of her 16 kills and two of her five aces in the final set.

“That’s kind of one of the things we wanted to emphasize,” Culver said, “taking big swings in clutch situations and getting teams to get back on their heels so it opens up more floor in front of them.”

Third-seeded Dana Hills (25-6) moves on to the CIF-SS Division 2 quarterfinals and will travel down Pacific Coast Highway to rival and Sea View League champion San Clemente (28-7) on Wednesday, Oct. 28.

“They’re good,” Culver said of San Clemente. “They have a lot of really good energy out on the court. It’s really hard to beat a good team three times, but we’re going to go out there and give our best.”

Dana Hills and San Clemente played twice this season with the Dolphins sweeping the Tritons in both matches, 3-0 at Dana Hills on Aug. 23 and 2-0 in the La Jolla Tournament final on Sept. 22.

“Extremely confident,” Stila Fresenius said. “I mean, we’re going to win.”

Dana Hills started out Saturday’s match confidently as well.

The Dolphins and Huntington Beach traded points to a 5-5 tie in the first set, but Dana Hills went on an 11-2 run to lead by as many as eight points. Stila Fresenius hit the final three points to close the set, 25-19, and get Dana Hills in a groove.

“It feels really good because I can see the whole court,” Stila Fresenius said. “The setter is my sister (Drae Fresenius), so we’ve been working together forever. She just tells me what to hit, and I’m like okay, just tell me where when I’m hitting, and even when she doesn’t, I can see the court.”

Drae Fresenius put up a team-high 44 assists.

The second set was all Dana Hills as the Dolphins opened 5-0, went on a 7-1 run in the middle of the set and closed with another 7-1 stretch for the win, 25-10.

In the third set, Huntington Beach got back into things and forced 10 ties. The Oilers broke a 13-13 tie and stayed ahead for the rest of the set for the 25-22 win.

Dana Hills found its groove again in the fourth set and looked like they were going to close things easily with a lead as large as eight. Huntington Beach hit six straight points to get close and pulled within one point at 24-23. Stila Fresenius boomed the final point and the match, 25-23.

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