As first-round opponents go in the CIF Southern Section boys' volleyball playoffs, the Laguna Beach High Breakers faced a formidable foe Tuesday in El Modena.
The Breakers, though, were up for the challenge.
Laguna, the No. 2 seed in the tournament, advanced in the postseason by sweeping the visiting Vanguards, 25-14, 25-18, 25-20, at Dugger Gym.
El Modena, an at-large entry to the playoffs from the Century League, swept Quartz Hills in a division wild-card game Monday.
The Vanguards finished the year 12-10.
"This was a good win for us," Laguna Coach Darren Utterback said. "[El Modena] come from a tough league that has [defending Division 2 champion] Esperanza in it. They serve tough, pass well and play good defense.
"This was a really good test for our guys, and the scores don't indicate how tough the match was. Overall, I thought our guys played well."
Outside hitter Jack Wyett had 12 kills, middle blocker Noah Blanton 11 kills and outside hitter Jake Hexberg seven kills and five digs. Libero JP Wollam had 14 digs and setter Alec Wulff finished with five digs and 29 assists.
The Orange Coast League champions improved to 21-5 overall.
"Our team all year has been balanced," Utterback said. "If we serve and pass well, we are hard to beat."
Laguna advanced to face La Sierra, the No. 2 team from the Big VIII League, Thursday. The score from the second-round game wasn't available at press time.
The winner of the La Sierra-Laguna game advances to a quarterfinal match at 7 p.m. Saturday against either Lakewood (Moore League No. 2) or Dos Pueblos (Channel League No. 2).
The Division 2 semifinal matches are at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
The Breakers swam to 14 new Orange Coast League record times and the boys' and girls' teams captured team titles at the OCL finals May 8 at Costa Mesa High.
Among the highlights for the Laguna boys' team, Max Morgan took first place in the boys' 200-yard individual medley with a personal-best time of 1 minute 59.29 seconds , qualifying him for CIF. Erik Juliusson won the 200 freestyle with a new league record time of 1:45.45. Juliusson also was won and set a new league record time in the 100 butterfly at 51.74. Ben Greenwood qualified for CIF and won the 500 freestyle with a personal-best time of 5:05.34.
Highlights for the girls' team included Olivia Vera winning the girls' 200 IM with her personal-best time of 2:17.10, which qualified her for CIF, and taking first in the 100 backstroke (1:02.89), which also qualified her for CIF. Natalie Selin won the 100 butterfly and qualified for CIF with a personal-best swim of 1:04.12, and Abby Cohn won the 100 breaststroke and qualified for CIF with a time of 1:11.20
Both Laguna teams, which went 5-0 during the OCL regular season, competed Wednesday and Thursday (May 14-15) at the CIF Southern Section Division 3 prelims and finals at the Riverside Aquatics Complex on the campus of Riverside City College. Results from the CIF meets weren't available at press time.
The Breakers once again dominated the Orange Coast League tournament, taking both the singles and doubles titles at the finals tournament May 8 at the Costa Mesa Tennis Center.
"We did quite well during league and so, we held the top three seeds in both singles and doubles going into the league tournament," Laguna Coach Don Davis said. "Nonetheless, there were no surprises, as everyone held their seed for a clean sweep."
In an all-Laguna singles final, Ryan Gee scored a 7-5, 6-0 victory over teammate Adrien Azera. The Breakers' Zack Washer took third in singles.
The doubles final pitted two Laguna teams, Alex Duong/Ethan Gee and Tim Nguyen/Sterling Dudley-Bowen, against each other. Duong and Gee took the title by virtue of a 6-4, 6-4 win in the final.
A third Laguna team, Stuart Webb and Chad Kanner, took third place in doubles.
"As expected, the single's final was very tight in the beginning, with both Adrien [Azera] and Ryan [Gee] playing quite well, but Ryan took charge midway through the second set for the victory," Davis said.
"Alex [Duong] is our most experienced doubles player in the doubles lineup and his expertise definitely showed throughout the match. Ethan [Gee] is a freshman, and he is perhaps our most improved doubles player on the team, yet he and Alex had to play their best to beat a very strong performance by Tim [Nguyen] and Sterling [Dudley-Bowen].
"We have a very young team, so our results in league was a reflection on how hard the boys have worked all season long."
Orange Coast League champion Laguna played its first-round CIF Southern Section Division 4 team playoff match Wednesday against San Dimas (Valle Vista League No. 3). The score wasn't available at press time. The winner moves on to a second-round match at 3 p.m. Friday against either Garden Grove (Garden Grove League champ) or Westminster (Golden West League No. 3).
The division quarterfinals are 3 p.m. Monday, and semifinal matches are 3 p.m. Wednesday.
Laguna's John Grayden is headed to the CIF Southern Section Individual Tournament's second round of competition.
Grayden qualified for the May 28 event at Mission Hills Golf Course by tying for seventh place Monday at the CIF Southern Section Southern Individual Regional Tournament at Skylinks Golf Course in Long Beach. Grayden shot a two-over-par 74 to advance. The top 20 golfers advanced to the second round of the tournament May 28 in Palm Desert.
"John played incredible in very challenging [windy] conditions," Laguna Coach Scott Finn said. "He continually hit great shots and made crucial putts all day. John's natural ability and mental toughness shined as he continued to execute his game plan under pressure.
"I am very proud of how he played and conducted himself throughout a very challenging day."
Track & Field
The Laguna boys' and girls' teams won Orange Coast League titles at the league finals meet May 8 at Laguna.
The girls' team cruised to the team title with 208 points. Second was Godinez (88) followed by Saddleback (54), Estancia (48), Costa Mesa (36) and Calvary Chapel (20).
The boys' team won the title with 142 points. Godinez (118) was second followed by Costa Mesa (104), Saddleback (66), Estancia (20) and Calvary Chapel (11).
First-place finishes for the Laguna girls' team: 1,600-meter run: Pearl Shoemaker, 5:22.18; 400-meter run: Coco Putnam, 1:00.85; 800-meter run: Janie Crawford, 2:17.82; 300-meter hurdles: Coco Putnam, 47.00; 3,200-meter run: Brenna Merchant, 11:47.02; 4x400-meter relay: Laguna Beach (Crawford, Putnam, Natalie Kimball, Brielle Budroe), 4:16.04; Triple jump: Paige Vitolo, 33-02.00; Shotput: Jackie Cenan, 36-01.00.
First-place finishes for the Laguna boys' team: 110-meter hurdles: Charles Warner, 16.47; 400-meter run: Nathan Lancaster, 50.23; Long jump: Mike Santana, 20-03.00; Triple jump: Mike Santana, 43-09.00; High jump: Kailar Pike, 6-02.00.
Both Laguna teams will compete Saturday at the CIF Southern Section Division 4 Track and Field Prelims meet, which starts at 11 a.m. at Carpinteria High.
Girls' Sand Volleyball
The Breakers earned a co-championship in the South Coast Division in their inaugural season in the Interscholastic Beach Volleyball League.
Laguna shared the division title with Saddleback Valley Christian after both teams finished league play with 5-1 records. Both teams qualified as one of the top 28 teams to compete May 7 in the IBVL playoffs.
In a first-round playoff match, Laguna was defeated, 2-1, by Notre Dame Academy at Dockweiler Beach. Picking up a point for the Breakers was the No. 1 team of Briana Boyd/Aspen Rocha who scored a 21-18, 21-19 win over Notre Dame Academy's Jen Jones/Savannah Kron.
Contributing to Laguna's winning season were Boyd, Rocha, Kendyl Brennan, Katelyn Carballo, Cammie Dorn, Molly Fluter, Olivia Hockaday, Claire Hockaday, Francie Holte, Lauren LaMontange, Sage Patchell, and Sabrina Stillwell. The Breakers are coached by Raul Papaleo and Doug Mauro.
Laguna's season comes to a close Saturday when the Breakers compete in the Pairs Championship tournament at Dockweiler Beach.