SANTA ANA "” The Laguna Beach High girls’ volleyball team has been the toast of the Orange Coast League for four years now, ever since the league was created.
The Breakers haven’t lost a league match in that time. They hadn’t even lost a game until Calvary Chapel took one Oct. 8, a match that Laguna still won in four games.
But Wednesday night, the Breakers showed just how dominant they still were, as they rolled 25-10, 25-13, 25-20 at Calvary Chapel to all but clinch outright that fourth consecutive title.
Laguna Beach can make it official by beating Estancia at home on Monday.
“We weren’t going to let them take another [game] off us," said senior outside hitter Paulette Grand Pre, who finished with a match-high 20 kills, of her team’s previous meeting with Calvary. “That wasn’t like us last time. I think we just brought more energy. We’ve been competing harder in practice with each other and overall we just played cleaner, I think, cleaner volleyball."
The Breakers (12-8, 6-0 in league) were clearly not intimidated playing in the Eagles’ gym, storming out to a big lead in Game 1 behind clutch serving from Grand Pre and sophomore setter Allison Palmer. After a big block by senior Alex Rieckhoff and Mackenzie Hester, it was 11-1, prompting Calvary Chapel (9-6, 3-2) to call timeout.
Laguna was similarly dominant in Game 2 but fell behind early in the third game before rallying.
“We had a really good practice [Tuesday] and that carried over until [Wednesday]," Breakers Coach Lance Stewart said. “It was our first practice with all of our players, where someone wasn’t missing for something, that I can remember. That was nice and we need to maintain that level of intensity at practice if we want to get where we want to be."
Junior Chanel Stewart was second on the team with eight kills, Rieckhoff had five and Palmer and sophomore middle blocker Caroline Holte collected three each.
Palmer dished up 29 assists for the Breakers, ranked No. 5 in the CIF Southern Section Division I-A coaches’ poll, and Lance Stewart also highlighted the play of sophomore middle blocker Lauren Capobianco and sophomore defensive specialist Marina Paul.
Senior Maddie Baird led Calvary Chapel with nine kills.
“We’re doing good," Grand Pre said. “We just have to keep competing in practice, keep getting better in practice."
Her coach agreed.
“We want to be healthy and just practicing hard," Stewart said. “We’ll get a good test against Mira Costa next week, so we’ll see where we’re at, and we’ll also play an alumni team that should be pretty decent next week. We’ll get a couple of tests before CIF this year, which we haven’t gotten in the past."