By Steve Breazeale
If the constant juggling of a lineup was a challenge for the Dana Hills girls volleyball team in the regular season, the first round of the CIF-SS Division 1AA playoffs proved to be an easy test.
The Dolphins, playing with a healthy lineup for the first time in weeks, coasted their way past visiting Northwood on Tuesday, punching their ticket into the second round of the tournament. The Dolphins will host Great Oak in the second round on Thursday, November 14.
The Dolphins led the Timberwolves from the get-go, winning in three straight sets 25-13, 25-18, 25-20.
Sophomore Ayla Fresenius, who was sidelined with a foot injury during the final stretch of league play, returned to the lineup, providing a presence up front against the relatively undersized Northwood lineup. Fresenius, along with fellow opposites and middle blockers Kendall Smith and Missy Shunk, helped keep the Northwood attack in check throughout the match. Smith had a team-high six blocks, Shunk tallied three and Fresenius had 2.5.
Northwood never threatened the Dana Hills lead in any of the first two sets. An 8-1 Dolphins run in the first paced them to a 25-13 opening set win. Dana Hills kept the pedal to the floor in the second and won 25-18.
The Timberwolves chipped away at the Dolphins lead in the third and final set, but the Dolphins were playing with only one starter, senior Tia Scambray, out on the floor. The momentary loss of momentum, coupled with a mini late comeback by Northwood, opened the eyes of Scambray following the match.
“I would rate our effort at about six or a seven. I don’t think we were playing up to our maximum potential but we got the job done anyways,” Scambray said. “We just need to practice and I think have a lot of heart. I think we need to have heart as a team to get as far as we want to.”
Scambray paced the team with 19 kills.