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Breakers drop but roll

Something happened Tuesday night at Dugger Gymnasium that hadn’t happened to the Laguna Beach High boys’ volleyball team in quite a while.

The Breakers dropped a game.

But despite what turned out to be a minor setback, things on the whole remained the same — Laguna won again.

The Breakers moved out of the second round of the CIF-Southern Section Division II playoffs by scoring a 25-20, 25-14, 26-28, 25-20 victory over visiting San Luis Obispo.

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It was the 100th section playoff match for Laguna, which improved its postseason record to 72-28.

The victory sends Orange Coast League champion and fifth-seeded Laguna into tonight’s quarterfinal round.

The Breakers will make the haul north to Goleta to battle fourth-seeded Dos Pueblos at 7 p.m.

The Chargers (Channel League No. 2) swept host Saugus (Foothill No. 2), 25-19, 25-14, 25-16 Tuesday.

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It will be the first postseason road test for Laguna, which began the playoffs last Friday with a sweep of Paloma Valley.

“Those Santa Barbara schools are generally very competitive,” Laguna Coach Lance Stewart said of Dos Pueblos. “It’ll be a fight for sure.”

Laguna appeared headed for a sweep of San Luis Obispo (Pac 7 champion) Tuesday but the Tigers (16-10) pulled out game No. 3, 28-26. That win ended a 38-game win streak for Laguna.

The Breakers also were in peril of losing the fourth game but scored the final eight points to win, 25-16.

“They are a well-coached team,” Stewart said. “They were big but didn’t have a lot of ball control. We used two swings to win our third game and win the match.

“Overall, it was good for us to get pushed.”

That wasn’t the case last Friday when Laguna cruised past a novice Paloma Valley team: While the Breakers were playing their 99th all-time CIF match, it was the first playoff game in school history for the Wildcats.

Paloma Valley (12-9) opened its doors in 2001.

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“It pretty much went as expected,” Stewart said of the 25-18, 25-14, 25-12 final.

In that win, Shawn Merz had nine kills and seven digs, Lorenzo Torriero had nine kills, Blair Bigelow eight kills, Cooper Gwaltney seven kills, Mike Kahl five kills and Clay Knapp 17 assists.

In Tuesday’s win over San Luis Obispo — a win that improved Laguna’s best-of-five matches record this year to 13-4 — Kahl finished with 11 kills, six digs and three blocks, Merz with 13 kills, Gwaltney with eight kills, 10 digs and four aces, Torriero with nine kills, Knapp with 38 assists and three blocks, Bigelow with seven kills and Kal Mokhtar had seven digs.

“Mikey Kahl probably had the best match of his career,” Stewart said. “Shawn Merz was his usual self and Clay Knapp also did a great job.”

A victory tonight at Dos Pueblos would advance Laguna to Wednesday’s semifinal round against the winner of tonight’s quarterfinal match between top-seeded Corona del Mar and Oxnard.


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