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VAN NUYS — Since the Los Angeles City Section began hosting Open Division championships five years ago, either Chatsworth or Palisades has been vying for the title.
Palisades won Open Division titles in 2018 and 2019, while the Chancellors won in 2021 after the COVID-19 pandemic forced the 2020 playoffs to be canceled.
On Saturday night at Birmingham High School, the Dolphins snatched the title back with a four-set victory, 25-19, 12-25, 25-15, 25-15.
“It’s either you bring your A game or you go home,” Chatsworth senior CJ Blankenship said. “We brought our A game and it just is what it is.”
In the second meeting between the two teams this season, the Chancellors (37-10) battled in a do-or-die fourth game until a rambunctious Palisades team mounted a 21-14 lead on a Chatsworth hitting error.
The Dolphins went on a four-point scoring run and closed out the game with a kill from Gus Wibblesman.
“Credit to Palisades, they served tough all night long,” Chatsworth coach Sina Aghassy said. “In moments where we typically get kills and typically feel like the rally’s over, they were extending plays and just out-efforting us.”
Palisades (34-5-1) came out with energy in the first game, but Chatsworth, the unbeaten West Valley League champion, adjusted to get its footing and a double-digit win in the second game.
It matched Palisades’ energy as well, and took a nine-point lead toward the end of the game on a Blake Pohevitz kill. Blankenship later put the game away on a block.
Chatsworth’s individual talent shined as Blankenship ended the match with 11 kills and two blocks. Pohevitz had 14 kills, while Ben Harper had seven kills and Jamaal Unuakhalu had six kills and three blocks.
“(Blankenship) has been on this stage before,” Aghassy said. “He’s worked tremendously hard. He got better as the game went on, attacking, but the kid works his butt off.”
As Chatsworth awaits the CIF Regional Championship brackets, Blankenship is keeping Saturday’s loss fresh in his mind.
“We’ve just got to come out fired up,” he said. “Use the anger from this game to take our first state game in Chatsworth history.”
In the boys Division II final >> Narbonne swept Van Nuys 25-12, 25-19, 25-12 to win the City Section Division II championship at Birmingham High School. Van Nuys, the Valley Mission League’s third-place finisher, went 16-15 this season.