As he stands on the service line, Bryan Larkin does not look like the average volleyball player.
The Dana Hills High School junior, dressed in his light blue jogging shoes, looks better suited for the cross-county team than the volleyball team.
But, what Larkin lacks in conventional appearance, he makes up for with steady, consistent play.
Larkin's services allowed Dana Hills to take control of their CIF Southern Section 4-A semifinal match against Newport Harbor Tuesday and defeat the Sailors, 15-11, 15-4, 15-12.
The victory advances South Coast League champion Dana Hills (18-2) to the final against Edison on Saturday at Marina High School. Dana Hills has yet to lose a game in its three CIF playoff matches. Last season, the Dolphins lost, 3-1, to Corona del Mar in the CIF 4-A final.
In the second game, Dana Hills was behind, 4-3, when Larkin, a left-hander, stepped to the service line. His soft, but accurate service style did not result in many aces, but he consistently served the ball in, and the Dolphins scored 10 consecutive points to take control of the game and the match.
After the Sailors finally broke serve, Dana Hills quickly regained control of the serve and scored two points to win.
"He is kind of a free spirit out there," Dana Hills Coach Oz Simmons said about Larkin. "He scored a lot of points for us tonight and just did a really good job like everybody else did."
Game 3 was tied at 3-3 when Larkin stepped to the line. This time his streak was only five points, but it was enough for the Dolphins to take control, 8-3. Dana Hills extended the lead to 12-3 but lapsed for the only time in the match and Newport Harbor (16-2) tied the score at 12-12.
Outside hitter Chris Knowles, after missing two attempted kills in a row to allow the Sailors to tie, had two consecutive kills to help the Dolphins to the final for the second straight season.
Newport Harbor Coach Mike Neece considers it a bonus for next season that his team got this far.
"I'm pleased with what we did this season," Neece said. "My goal at the start of the season was just to make the playoffs. Our lack of experience showed at times. We just made mistakes like serving the ball out, and you can't do that and expect to win."