CYPRESS - Lance Stewart stood at mid-court early Saturday evening, a bit misty-eyed.
He had just watched his Laguna Beach High boys’ volleyball team complete in 1 hour, 13 minutes, what no Laguna team had done in the last 27 years - win a CIF Southern Section championship.
The Breakers had just put the finishing touches on a surprising sweep of defending champion Westlake at Cypress College, a 25-19, 25-23, 25-22 triumph that gave the school its first section title since 1983.
Laguna rarely trailed in the match - its biggest deficit being two points which came twice but not until the third game.
Stewart couldn’t help but feel a bit emotional about the big win.
“I’m just so happy for these guys,” said Stewart, who Stewart served a five-week suspension for an unspecified reason to start the season, as assistant Steve Astor was the head man early on. “They put up with a lot of stuff at the beginning of the year, stuff they shouldn’t have had to. But these are good kids who worked hard and played hard for one another. It’s pure joy to see them win this.”
As soon as Laguna had wrapped up the sixth CIF title in the sport in school history, senior setter Travis Woloson gave Stewart a bear hug, lifted him off the ground and gave him a quick spin around. Soon, the rest of the Breakers joined in to create a massive hug on Stewart.
“These kids are amazing and such a good group,” Stewart said. “They have been a true pleasure to coach.”
Woloson was relishing the moment before he headed home and got ready to go to the school’s prom.
“This is awesome but a little surreal,” he said, as he clutched the CIF championship plaque tightly under his right arm. “I thought we played well but I thought it’d be a lot closer than it was. We took it to them early.”
Laguna established control of the match early in Game 1, and Westlake never really recovered.
The Breakers used several 4-0 runs in the first game, the first of which broke a 4-4 tie and was capped by a kill by senior outside hitter Scottie Chapel. The second, also ended by Chapel, this time, on a service ace, increased the lead to 14-7. Chapel’s second ace of the game capped the final 4-0 run and Laguna got the win on a Westlake violation at the net.
The Breakers led the majority of the second game only to see the Warriors use a 6-2 spurt, led by junior middle-blocker Dimitri Gorenc, to forge a 14-14 tie. Laguna responded with a 6-1 run of its own, highlighted by two aces by junior setter Robbie McKnight, to open up a 20-15 lead. Westlake rallied to within 24-23 but a kill by Woloson iced the second game for the Breakers.
The third game was challenging for Laguna which had an uncharacteristic four service errors in the game. There were 14 ties, the last of which came at 22-22. The Breakers took the lead for good when a Woloson kill ricocheted off the hand of Westlake’s Travis Magorien and after the Warriors hit wide on the next serve, Laguna stood at match point.
They got it when the Warriors were whistled for a net violation.
Then, the celebration on the Laguna side of the net began.
“This has been our goal the entire season,” Woloson said. “We’ve worked so hard all year for this and it’s so great to finally win a CIF championship for the school after all these years.”
Chapel and Woloson had 11 and 10 kills, respectively. Senior Reed Thompson had seven kills, junior Alek Burk six kills and senior Sean Kimball four kills. McKnight had 31 assists and 12 digs.