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MATT’S MUSINGS: Breakers the class of OCL

Spring break concludes this weekend for Laguna Beach High athletes.

Next week, it’s all business for the Breakers, as many spring sports have Orange Coast League games and matches with title implications.

Well, kind of.

In some sports Laguna Beach is the class of the league, which leads to these games being nothing other than good practice.

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“It’s basically every sport except football," tennis senior Rex Miller said, perhaps overstating the case a bit. After all, Costa Mesa does currently lead the baseball league title race, and Estancia leads in boys’ golf, although that could change after the Eagles tangle with the Breakers on April 29.

But in tennis and volleyball especially, Laguna is quite the Orange Coast League juggernaut. It’s why boys’ tennis coach Aaron Talarico wanted to schedule matches like the one against St. Margaret’s on April 9. Sure, Laguna Beach prevailed, 14-4, but at least it was a better challenge than beating a league opponent 17-1 or 18-0.

“It’s definitely tough," Miller said of not having the close matches, “but it gives the subs a chance to step in there and get some good experience."

The Breakers boys’ volleyball team, top-ranked in the CIF Southern Section Division II coaches’ poll, is technically one of two undefeated teams in league.

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But few expect the other team, Costa Mesa, to pose much of a threat when the teams play Tuesday in the Mustangs’ gym.

That leaves it up to the team members to challenge themselves in practice and try to avoid rust. The Laguna boys’ volleyball team is currently in the midst of 18 straight days without a match.

“We’ve got to have hard practices to keep our skill level up," senior outside hitter Cooper Gwaltney said.

Track and swimming should be good battles. Laguna boys’ track is defending league champs, but Costa Mesa has won three straight titles on the girls’ side. Both Breakers teams are undefeated thus far in league dual meets.

In swimming, the Breakers girls fully expect to defend their league title of a year ago, which was the first league swimming title in school history. Under new coach Kari Johnson, Cal-bound senior Taylor Dodson said it was a smooth transition.

“The practices are really intense but they’re really fun, and people are already dropping time," Dodson said. “It’s good to see all our hard work pay off so early in the season."

The Orange Coast League will also be in a state of transition in the coming years, as Godinez builds up its athletic programs and the league welcomes Saddleback in 2010-11.

For now, however, Laguna Beach can enjoy its view from the top.

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MATT SZABO may be reached at (714) 966-4614 or by e-mail at matthew.szabo@latimes.com.


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