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Breakers ready for CIF playoffs

COSTA MESA "” After completing another dominant run through the Orange Coast League on Wednesday, Laguna Beach High boys’ volleyball coach Lance Stewart summed it up pretty well.

The CIF Southern Section Division II playoffs loom, and the Breakers are hungry for a title.

“Our biggest opponent right now is ourselves," Stewart said. “If we play like we’re capable and serve like we’re capable and bring a level of intensity that’s necessary, we’re going to be pretty tough to beat. And if we don’t, we can be beat, and the kids know that.

“I think we’re playing pretty good. We’re practicing pretty hard and we’re fairly consistent in practice. The key in CIF will be how well we make adjustments on the fly and how well we serve and pass."

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Laguna (20-8, 8-0 in league) topped the overmatched Mustangs, 25-17, 25-10, 25-16, on Wednesday. Senior Scottie Chapel had a team-high 10 kills and added seven service aces, while senior Reed Thompson also had a strong match with nine kills in just 11 attempts.

Robbie McKnight (16 assists) and Travis Woloson (13) dished up the passes, and Chapel had a team-high 11 digs.

The Breakers responded well in each game after the Mustangs started out close. In Game 3, Laguna zoomed out to a 7-1 lead, but Costa Mesa rallied to make it, 8-7. The Breakers, however, immediately went on a 13-4 run to seize back control.

The Division II pairings are scheduled to be released at 9 a.m. Sunday. Westlake High has been ranked No. 1 for much of the year, although it lost to San Clemente in two games last weekend at the Redondo Tournament. Laguna, No. 2 for much of the year, defeated San Clemente in the Orange County Championships and also lost to the Tritons in a tough five-game nonleague match.

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“If I were a betting man, which I’m not, I’d say they’d leave us at No. 2," Stewart said. “If you throw logic into the equation, and you look at the records and what we did with San Clemente and what Westlake did with San Clemente "” our only common opponent "” you could make a case for us being No. 1."

The Breakers head into the playoffs having won nine of their last 10 matches. The only hiccup was a four-game loss at Huntington Beach, the top-ranked team in the county, on April 30.

On Tuesday, Laguna got past Estancia, 25-11, 25-10, 25-14. Chapel and Thompson each had seven kills.

Laguna has more to worry about than its playoff seeding. After all, last year in the playoffs the Breakers were the top-seeded team but fell at Royal of Simi Valley in the semifinals.

“You’ve got to beat the best teams [in CIF]," Stewart said. “There’s no hiding at all. We’ll show up wherever they seed us."

The Breakers boys haven’t been to a CIF Southern Section finals match since 1999 and haven’t won a CIF Southern Section title since 1983. They did, however, win a Southern California Regional Division III title last year.



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