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SoCal title is sweet

Now that’s how to end a season.

The Laguna Beach High boys’ volleyball team had been saddled for weeks with the knowledge that it wasn’t really playing up to its potential. Even after wins, Coach Lance Stewart said it would take a higher level win a championship.

But the Breakers put it together when it mattered most Saturday afternoon at Capistrano Valley High. No. 2-seeded Laguna swept top-seeded Francis Parker of San Diego, 25-22, 26-24, 25-23, to win the CIF Southern California Regional Division III title.

“We blocked well and played defense better than we had in a while, and that was the key,” Stewart said of winning the inaugural SoCal title, hoped to be a precursor to a state championship tournament. “We made the little adjustments based on our scouting reports. That gave us three, four, five more points a game, and that was huge.

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“Very few teams in any sport get to win their last match of the season.”

Junior Scottie Chapel had a team-high 11 kills and added seven digs for the Breakers, while seniors Seth Morris and NYU-bound Cooper Gwaltney had eight and seven kills, respectively. Sophomore Robbie McKnight tallied 23 assists, junior Reed Thompson had seven block assists and senior Harrison Phelps had 18 digs.

“[Phelps] had his best match of the playoffs, and he picked the right time to do it,” Stewart said. “It couldn’t happen for a better kid.”

Phelps, who along with Gwaltney participated in the Orange County All-Star Game Tuesday night, said the Breakers were able to key on Francis Parker senior outside Myles Muagututia, who is headed to Stanford and plans to play both volleyball and football. The games were all close against Francis Parker (31-4), but the Breakers (26-6) found a way to get it done at the end.

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“It was one of our best matches of the year, I’d say,” Phelps said. “I think it was definitely one of my best matches, and I think that goes for a lot of the other guys too. It was a relief. I was kind of waiting for my best match to be played. That was huge for me.”

Junior Travis Woloson, who had six kills, said it might have been the best the Breakers have played since they topped San Clemente in a nonleague match way back on March 25.

“We saw that when [Muagututia] wasn’t involved in the play, this team was very beat-able,” Woloson said. “Containing him was our No. 1 goal throughout the whole match, and a lot of people stepped up.”

The future looks bright as well. Chapel and Woloson, the co-MVPs of the Orange Coast League, should both be back next year.

“It was definitely a nice way to end the season, especially for all the seniors,” Woloson said. “Me being a junior, and losing in the [CIF] semifinals, I want to come back next year and win the whole thing. I think we’ll have a pretty good team next year.”

In the Division III Regional semifinals June 4, the Breakers got past Salesian, 25-21, 25-18, 25-16. Gwaltney led the way with 14 kills.



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