Chatsworth Chancellors Avenge 2022 Open Division Finals Loss with Dominant win over Palisades
The Chatsworth Chancellors defeated the Palisades Dolphins in a commanding 3-0 sweep in the CIF City Section Open Division Championship on Saturday evening. The dominant performance avenges the Chancellors’ 3-1 loss to the Dolphins from last season. The Dolphins and Chancellors have combined to win the past 5 Open Division titles, with Palisades winning in 2018, 2019 and 2022. Chatsworth defeated West Valley League rival Taft to claim the championship in 2021.
Not only was the contest a 3-0 sweep, the match was not as close as it might have looked on the stat sheet. The Chancellors took the sets 25-18, 25-22, 25-18. With an 11-9 lead in the first set, Chatsworth pushed the lead to six points punctuated by a big block from junior Justin Dickson. Palisades called a timeout at that point, but was unable to stem the tide, only getting to within four at 20-16 before the Chancellors closed out the set.
The second set would be the most deceiving on paper, as Chatsworth held on for a 3-point win, but the Dolphins were never closer than two points after the Chancellors took an early 3-1 lead. Even with Chatsworth extending the lead as wide as six points, it was a back and forth affair. Palisades threatened to force tie breakers when they recorded a side out to get to 24-22, but Chatsworth would take the set.
The Dolphins refused to go down without a fight, keeping the third set close for the first half, and earning their first tie of the Finals at 12-12. The Chancellors would score five of the next six points, forcing a Palisades time out with the score 17-13. Chatsworth would stand tall coming out of the break with two big blocks by Dickson to stretch the lead to 19-14. Junior Nate Kim would add a key block and Chatsworth would extend their lead to 22-14, before closing out with the 25-18 win to kick off the championship celebration.
“Shocked, you come into a match like this… kind of preparing for the worst of they're going to play their (butts) off.” said Chatsworth head coach Sina Aghassy when told about some of the specifics of his team’s dominant performance. “I’m super proud of our guys. I was not expecting this sort of match, but obviously you’ll take it as it goes.”
The Chancellors were led in this sweep by a pair of dominant performances. Senior Blake Pohevitz was dominant at the net with 18 kills, and appeared to get stronger as the match went on. “Credit to his play, but his leadership was phenomenal tonight,” Aghassy said of his star outside hitter. “His body language, the way he was talking to his teammates, leading… I’m very proud of the guys.” Aghassy went on to compliment the growth of Kim, who transitioned to setter from hitter after last season concluded. Kim controlled the passing game and filled the stat sheet with 34 assists, 3 blocks, 2 kills and 6 digs.
Chatsworth’s season ended in the first round of the state regional tournament with a hard fought 3-1 loss to Del Norte, 22-25, 25-23, 16-25, 21-25. Though Pohevitz was the clear leader of the team this season and is one of six seniors on the roster, some of the key contributors this season were underclassmen. In addition to juniors Kim and Dickson, the Chancellors will have sophomores Chase Dunn and Taj Unuakhalu returning as potential leaders on a team that looks to win a third straight West Valley League title.