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The energy around the Dana Hills boys volleyball program right now is something to behold.
The Dolphins have gone from back-to-back losing seasons with maybe all the players’ parents in the stands to hosting a packed and raucous gym on a Wednesday night in a CIF-SS quarterfinal—and they’re not done yet.
Dana Hills rode an electric opening set and was clinical around the net to sweep No. 3 seed Crossroads of Santa Monica, 25-11, 25-17, 25-19, on Wednesday, May 3, and advance to the CIF-SS Division 4 semifinals.
The Dolphins (25-13) will play at No. 2 seed Hart of Newhall (30-5) in the semifinals on Saturday, May 6. Hart won in four sets at Quartz Hill of Lancaster in the quarterfinals. Dana Hills will look to advance to its first CIF-SS Final since winning the Division 4A championship in 1986. Hart has never made a CIF-SS Final.
“It means a lot,” Dana Hills first-year head coach Spencer Andrews said of the program’s turnaround and playoff run. “There’s been a lot of sacrifices behind the scenes. …These boys wanted to get after it, and my job was just to facilitate that. It feels good, man. It feels good to give to these kids, because they’re just damn good kids.”
After finding its footing early in the season to snap a 28-match losing streak, Dana Hills is really clicking now in the CIF-SS playoffs, featuring an opening-round sweep of El Rancho, a five-set thriller over Diamond Ranch and this sweep of Crossroads—all at home. Andrews credits this run and hot streak to the camaraderie of his group.
“Honestly, it’s the off-the-court stuff,” Andrews said. “We’re getting good practices. We’re not doing anything crazy, nothing that no one else is doing, but these kids have dinner together every day. They got paired up, an upperclassman with a lowerclassman, and they still meet up, talk, surf, play beach volleyball together. They’re high school kids having fun and hanging out every day.”
The Dolphins were spurred on in the quarterfinals by the wall put up at the net, specifically by senior Seamus Flynn. Flynn, a senior with Dana Hills’ only Division 1 scholarship going to Long Island University, had four blocks in the opening set and the sweep-clinching block in the third set, as the Dolphins put up a “roof” over Crossroads.
“His mental game is way stronger now,” Andrews said of Flynn. “He’s always making adjustments, little technique stuff. It’s the tiniest angle, and he’s always hungry to ask for that feedback and action on that feedback.”
After a string of coin-flip victories for home-court advantage, Dana Hills will finally go on the road for the semifinals, but the party won’t stop for the Dolphins.
“We have the best bench in the country. I’m sure of it,” Andrews said. “We have the best student section. We have a freaking drumline at a high school volleyball game. It’s just fun, man. It’s how it should be.”