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Dana Hills girls volleyball was within spiking distance of program history, but in a game that balanced on the net’s edge, the Dolphins found themselves just short.
Canyon took back-and-forth fourth and fifth sets from ties of 23-23 and 13-13, respectively, to down Dana Hills in a thriller, 25-11, 18-25, 21-25, 25-23, 15-13, in a CIF-SS Division 3 quarterfinal match on Wednesday, Oct. 25, at Canyon High School in Anaheim.
“It’s simple plays over time,” Dana Hills coach Tom Hoff said of the difference in a tight match like this quarterfinal. “(Canyon) played really awesome from the fourth and fifth set, very consistent, made us work real hard at getting all the points. Hats off to them. We had them against the wall. I thought we had them in a really good spot in the fourth game, but hats off to them.”
Dana Hills fell once again in the CIF-SS quarterfinals with similar defeats at the same stage in 2018, 2012 and 2007. The Dolphins program has never won a CIF-SS championship or played in a CIF-SS Final.
This group for Dana Hills (20-3) still accomplished more than it had in recent seasons with its first league championship since 2017 and first playoff win since 2018.
“Special group. We had great senior leadership. Can’t say enough about how hard they played, how together they were,” Hoff said. “I want them to feel like this is where we belong. We belong going into CIF. We belong making runs. We belong winning conferences. These girls are hopefully setting a different tone for our program. We’ve got kids coming in as eighth graders seeing this is the type of match we’ve earned the right to play.”
In a hot, packed and energetic home gym on Wednesday night, Canyon came out fast against Dana Hills in a 25-11 opening set win, where the Dolphins did not look like their normal selves.
However, Dana Hills found its regular game in the second set with five service aces and excellent defending. The Dolphins evened the match with a 25-18 win. Ava Hoff recorded two aces, and Reese Weinert, Kaity Hoelker and Kayli Wallin each recorded an ace.
Weinert came out strong and finished stronger for Dana Hills in the third set, as the Dolphins grabbed an early lead and held off a push from the Comanches, 25-21. Weinert recorded seven kills in the set, and Ally Fausett closed the set with a block.
In the fourth set, neither team could pull away from the other, as each team earned three-point leads in the first half of the set. The second half of the set saw both teams covering the entirety of the court and trading points with seven tie scores up to 23-23. With Dana Hills staring down a semifinal berth, Canyon found the extra edge to take the set, 25-23, and light up its home crowd heading into the fifth-set tiebreaker.
Dana Hills grabbed an early three-point lead in the fifth set, but Canyon chipped away to tie the score at 7-7. The Dolphins and Comanches would tie again at 10, 11, 12 and 13, but Dana Hills couldn’t find the finishing blow. Canyon put up the wall again with back-to-back point-scoring blocks to win the set, 15-13, and the match to advance to the semifinals.
“We gave ourselves chances to win it,” Hoff said. “That’s all you can ask for. The other team has a right to play really well, and they did in the fourth and fifth set.”
Canyon plays at No. 1 seed Beckman in the CIF-SS Division 3 semifinals on Saturday, Oct. 28.
Dana Hills advanced to the quarterfinals with a home sweep over Cypress and a five-set win over Redlands.