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Laguna Beach loses in five sets to Quartz Hill in CIF State SoCal Regional Division II quarterfinal

The Laguna Beach High girls’ volleyball team fought like a scrappy group this season.

On Thursday night, the Breakers fell behind, but they had enough fight left in them to go the distance one more time.

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Laguna Beach played its eighth five-set match of the season in a CIF State Southern California Regional Division II quarterfinal, marking a first for the decorated program.

In the end, the Breakers could not overcome a bad matchup.

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Lehigh University-bound opposite Amaya Smith had 13 kills and four blocks, and No. 6-seeded Quartz Hill earned a 19-25, 25-15, 25-21, 16-25, 15-10 win at No. 3 Laguna Beach.

Quartz Hill, which won its first CIF Southern Section title in Division 4 last Saturday, accomplished another first in getting past the state quarterfinals. The Rebels (38-6) will host No. 7 Bakersfield Garces Memorial (24-8) in the regional semifinals on Saturday.

“Our mentality had to be right,” Smith said. “We knew going into this game that it was going to be one of our toughest matches, and we haven’t gone five sets all season long.

“We have never made it past the second round of state, so this is a big win for us.”

The Rebels recorded 18 total blocks as a team, led by seven rejections from senior middle blocker Leilani Hallman. Melody Paige, another senior middle blocker, had nine kills and 5½ blocks.

Active middle blockers were the same formula that did in the Breakers (19-14) in the CIF Southern Section Division 3 final on Nov. 3, when Sun Valley Village Christian rolled to a sweep.

“It’s too bad we weren’t sharper, but we grinded, and we had an opportunity to pull it out in five,” said Breakers coach Shawn Patchell, who saw Hallie Carballo record 30 digs. “If we served a little bit better, we would have gotten them out of system a little bit more. They were able to run their middles, who were very, very good.”

Laguna Beach High's Cambria Hall hits a ball against Quartz Hill's Leilani Hallman, left, and Amaya Smith during a CIF State Southern California Regional Division II quarterfinal playoff match at home on Thursday.
Laguna Beach High's Cambria Hall hits a ball against Quartz Hill's Leilani Hallman, left, and Amaya Smith during a CIF State Southern California Regional Division II quarterfinal playoff match at home on Thursday. (Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Quartz Hill had more height in the front row, and it led to five total blocks for the Rebels in Game 1. Laguna Beach took the first set, however, behind a balanced attack.

Cambria Hall had four of her 20 kills, and Gretchen Webb and Ella Tyus checked in with three kills apiece in Game 1. Webb finished with eight kills and a service ace.

Hallman came back with four blocks by herself in Game 2, and Quartz Hill pulled out a tighter third set to take its first lead of the match.

The Rebels’ traveling fans made their voices heard. Quartz Hill’s blockers ensured that the Breakers had a long night ahead of them, but it did not have to be their last.

The left-handed serve of Natalia Hagopian gave the Breakers a lift to open Game 4. She had three aces in one sequence to give Laguna Beach a 9-4 lead.

“I’m really proud of her,” Patchell said of the freshman setter, who had 24 assists and four aces. “She played with a lot of poise.”

When the Rebels made their run, it was to forge a 12-12 tie instead of building a lead.

Laguna Beach came out of a timeout, and it put together a 7-1 run on the serves of Tyus and Hall.

The two players that carried the Breakers in Game 4 connected to send the match to a fifth set. Hagopian’s serve forced an overpass, and Piper Naess hammered down her eighth kill of the set to end it. Naess finished with 20 kills.

In the fifth set, Hall had a solo block to tie the score at 10-10, but the Rebels rattled off the next five points to win the match.

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