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The Dana Hills girls volleyball team crossed off another “first since” on its list of goals on Thursday, Oct. 19, and the Dolphins have their sights set on a true program “first.”
The Dolphins buzzed through visiting Cypress, 25-12, 25-11, 25-17, in a first-round sweep to open the CIF-SS Division 3 playoffs for Dana Hills’ first playoff win since 2018, which was also the Dolphins last home playoff game.
Dana Hills (19-2) advances to the second-round and will host Redlands on Saturday, Oct. 22.
“We have to (be dialed in). You either have to figure it out or you’re done,” Dana Hills coach Tom Hoff said. “I was real proud of them. We prepared and talked about playing a certain way, and they absolutely did that. It’s been a long time since we delivered a win in this gym. They keep making some history, going on a nice journey together.”
Dana Hills won its first league championship since 2017, and now the Dolphins are aiming to win the first CIF-SS championship in program history. Dana Hills girls volleyball has never played in a CIF-SS title game.
“It definitely means a lot, especially since we finished not as good last year,” Dana Hills junior Kaity Hoelker said of the league title. “It felt good to climb on top of everyone who finished above us last year. I’m so happy I’m here and able to be a part of this. I’m really proud of our whole team.”
While Dana Hills went on to the sweep on Thursday, Cypress was a tough out for the Dolphins, especially early.
In the first set, the Dolphins’ fine defensive efforts were matched by the equally scrappy Centurions with long rallies that eventually fell Dana Hills’ way. The Dolphins found their form to close the first set with an 11-4 run for the win, 25-12. Ally Fausett, Kayli Wallin and Savannah Curtis each notched service aces.
“The points were not easy to come by,” Hoff said. “That’s a good team, and they were playing some good ball, but we got on them pretty good. We’re built to pass and serve the ball, and I thought we served tremendous. Really nice, tactical, laser-focused serving which put them in a hard position most of the night.”
In the second set, Dana Hills was tougher at the net, and a 10-0 run midway though the set propelled the Dolphins to the win, 25-11. Reese Weinert was strong on the blocks, and Ava Hoff clinched the set with an ace.
Dana Hills opened up another eight-point lead early in the third set, but as the Dolphins took their foot off the gas, Cypress fought back to a 16-16 tie. The Dolphins snapped back with four straight points and the final five points of the match in a 9-1 closing run for the win, 25-17.
“Good to have the blood pressure go up and get stressed a little bit,” Coach Hoff said. “Good to have to respond, and they put another really good run on. A lot of good stuff.”
Hoelker helped close things down with nine kills in the third set for at least 19 in the match, and Weinert recorded two aces in the final five-point run, including the match-clincher.
Dana Hills hosts Redlands on Saturday at 6 p.m. Redlands swept Buckley of Sherman Oaks at home in the first round on Thursday.