The Laguna Beach High girls’ volleyball team has shown potential early in the season, but also an inability to close out matches at times.
The Breakers had a 24-11 lead in Game 2 of Wednesday’s nonleague match at JSerra, yet didn’t secure the set until Ella Tyus’ kill five points later.
In Game 3, it took until the fifth match point for Laguna Beach to seal the deal as a JSerra serve floated long.
“We don’t know how to finish well,” Breakers coach Shawn Patchell said. “We’ve kind of lacked that intensity to finish, and that’s something we’re working on. We get a nice lead, and we don’t really know how to put it away. Hopefully we get some more practice at that.”
Still, Patchell saw several positives that came from Laguna Beach’s 25-16, 25-16, 25-18 sweep against a Trinity League opponent.
“I thought our middles, especially, played well tonight,” he said. “We’re trying to set them more. We tried to pass well enough so that we could set them, and I thought we did that better tonight than we did even last weekend [in advancing to the semifinals of the Dave Mohs Memorial Tournament].”
Senior middle blocker Kendall Fraser had six kills and three blocks for Laguna Beach (16-4), ranked No. 7 in CIF Southern Section Division 1 and 2. The other middle blocker, sophomore Luisa LoFranco, tallied seven kills.
Sophomore Sophia Reavis led Laguna Beach with 11 kills, and Tyus added eight. Senior libero Hallie Carballo had 12 digs as well as six service aces.
“I thought we served the ball better tonight as well,” Patchell said. “JSerra is a really good ball control team … We’ve asked Hallie to serve it a little bit more aggressively. She answered that call, for sure.”
Senior setter Soren Patchell, Shawn Patchell’s daughter, said that setting the middles has indeed been a focus early in the season for the Breakers.
“Even if the pass is a little off, we still try to get our middles involved,” said Soren Patchell, who had 29 assists. “We’ve been running a 5-1, so we’ve been able to run slides and sets behind because there’s not an opposite right there.”
Junior outside hitter Madison Kelly led JSerra (5-11) with eight kills.
Laguna Beach now gears up for a Sunset Conference crossover match at Huntington Beach on Thursday, the Breakers’ third road match of the week. They also earned a four-set win at Capistrano Valley on Thursday.
Huntington Beach (11-5) is ranked No. 15 in Division 1 and 2.
“We had a great five-set match with them last year,” Shawn Patchell said. “We went up 2-0 at home, and they came from behind and beat us. We’d kind of like to do that and get a nice road win [Thursday]. It’s going to be a good match. They’re a good, physical team. If we can get our middle going, I think we’ll be successful, and defend the middle as well.”
The Breakers also recognize that finishing off sets will likely be another key to victory.
“I think we just have to go in with the mind set, even if we’re ahead, that we just have to finish strong and play our best game,” Soren Patchell said. “No matter who we’re playing, we have to focus on our side of the court ... We’re learning how to finish strong, so hopefully we bring our ‘A’ game tomorrow and we close out.”
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