By Cheynne Lee
The Lady Tritons defeated the visiting Huntington Beach Oilers in five sets and will now advance to the second round of the CIF Div 1-AA playoffs in a showdown against No. 7 Santa Margarita.
A thriller till the end, San Clemente and Huntington Beach traded leads throughout play 25-21, 23-25, 25-23, 23-25 and 15-12. After splitting the first two sets, the Tritons managed to comeback from a six-point deficit in the third set to secure the home court momentum. Junior outside hitter, Rachel Wilford, stepped up for the Lady Tritons recording three decisive kills for her team, the last being the set winner.
Colorado-bound senior, Alexa Strange recorded 23 kills and 22 assists, as her senior co-captain, Franki Darnold, recorded 22 kills and 16 digs. Senior setter Summer Cumin had a solid performance with 19 digs and 41 assists.
The Lady Tritons had a chance to end the match in the fourth set but blew a 23-21 lead late in the set. Subsequently the red and black went into a decisive fifth set and stood their ground.
Led by Darnold and Jourdan Kadow, who ended the night with 10 kills and 11 digs, the Tritons managed to fend off the Oilers as Darnold scored the last two points of the set to help her team advance to the second round.
“We just tried to make sure everyone had the same mind set and that we went onto the court in the final game with confidence and a level head,” said Darnold. “We expect tough competition from Santa Margarita; to prepare we’ll work hard during Wednesday’s practice to work on any minor details we can to get ahead of Santa Margarita. But above anything if we just play our game I know we’ll come out on top.”
On points of improvement heading into the second round, head coach Rob O’Rear said that he will try to work on their blocking schemes and urged that the girls need to finish games earlier rather than take it into the fifth set.
The eighth-ranked Lady Tritons will now take on seventh-ranked Santa Margarita Thursday, November 10 at home and will look to advance to the quarterfinals. The game will be in the gym at 7 p.m.

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