A large difference between the Westlake High and Palm Springs girls volleyball teams could be found Tuesday night.
Palm Springs Coach Andy Hollinger attributed Westlake's polished and aggressive play to the Warriors' off-season club volleyball conditioning.
"Club ball definitely helps that program," Hollinger said. "Nightclubs--that's the only kind of clubs we have."
Westlake, unranked and the Marmonte League's third-place entry in the playoffs, did the clubbing Tuesday, defeating less-experienced Palm Springs in the quarterfinals of the Southern Section 2-A playoffs at Westlake, 15-4, 15-6, 17-15.
Westlake (13-7) will play Atascadero in Thursday's semifinals.
Westlake took only 15 minutes to complete the first game, jumping ahead, 7-0, behind the serving of senior setter Karen Margozewitz, who ran the Westlake offense effectively throughout the match, saving several passes from landing in the net.
"Almost every game, someone has come up and commented on Karen's setting," Westlake Coach Dave Rubio said. "She keeps getting better every match."
Margozewitz consistently connected with middle blockers Tristan Graham and April Devine. Westlake's quick middle attack kept Palm Springs (15-2) off-balance in the first two games.
"We haven't seen it in our league," Hollinger said. "When you don't see it all year, it's hard to react to."
Said Rubio: "The middle has never looked this good. We were unstoppable in the middle."
Westlake led, 5-0, in the second game behind the hitting of Devine, outside hitter Dana Simone and Graham, who recorded a game-high 11 kills. Westlake eased to a 13-5 lead on several Palm Springs mistakes before clinching the second game.
Westlake struggled in the third game, tying the game at nine, 12, 13, 14, and 15 before scoring on an Indian error and a match-clinching Simone dink to the middle of the Palm Springs court.
"Our focus has never been better," Rubio said. "We never really got rattled. I hope it can last through CIF."
The next round could be a nightmare relived or a dream come true for Rubio. Westlake, which has never reached the final, lost in the semifinals to Magnolia last season in five games. Rubio is hopeful the Warriors will draw on their playoff experience.