The core of the Laguna Beach High girls’ volleyball team has played together for the majority of high school.
Winding up in the CIF Southern Section Division 1 playoffs was a goal that the Breakers set after falling one match short of the Division 3 crown last year.
Laguna Beach not only qualified for the Division 1 bracket, but had the opportunity to open at home.
Manhattan Beach Mira Costa spoiled Laguna Beach’s postseason opener on Thursday night.
Amanda Burns had 16 kills to lead the Mustangs to a 25-20, 11-25, 21-25, 28-26, 15-8 comeback victory in a first-round match.
Mira Costa (27-9), the third-place team from the Bay League, will remain on the road to face third-seeded Mater Dei (27-4) in the quarterfinals on Wednesday at 6 p.m.
“It’s exciting,” Mustangs coach Cameron Green said. “We love the position that we’re in. We get to go and try to upset one of the best teams in the nation, so we’re super excited about what is ahead of us and what we have in store.”
Laguna Beach (30-10) had two match points in the fourth set, but kills by Savannah Green and Piper Stevens erased those chances. A hitting error by Piper Naess sent the match to a fifth set.
Stevens had six kills, all of which came after the start of the fourth set.
“It’s kind of the way it’s been all year is different people coming off the bench and providing a spark,” Cameron Green said. “For us, that was kind of what we expect. We’re just finding a way to win. We’ve got so much talent on the team.
“For [Stevens] to come in, we expected that, and we’re really proud of her to come in and do that. It was big.”
Kate Reilly had eight kills and three service aces for the Mustangs. Ella Snyder had 26 assists and 3½ blocks, and Erika Griffiths provided 19 digs.
Burns said that watching the Mira Costa boys’ volleyball team advance to the Division 1 final against Newport Harbor last spring served as a motivating factor for her team.
“We all went there, and we saw that the crowd was all fired up,” Burns said. “It was really motivating, and we were like, ‘We want this.’
“It’s been a while since we’ve made it to the top. This is our time.”
Breakers coach Shawn Patchell lamented that his team took time to settle into the match, dropping the first set in the process.
“The girls did a nice job of studying this team,” Patchell said. “We blocked really well, and I thought that was the momentum that we needed to close them out in four [sets].
“It was unfortunate that we were nervous in the first set playing on our home floor. That’s something that we’ve got to get over. I wish we would play like we could in the first set, then we have a chance in three [sets].”
Naess finished with a match-high 23 kills. Cambria Hall had 13 kills, Sophie Reavis added 10 kills, and Luisa LoFranco chipped in with 3½ blocks.
“No matter what, the fourth set, the fifth set, we were fighting the whole way,” Naess said. “We wanted to win. We wanted to beat Mira Costa. It wasn’t that we were playing bad. I think we just lost the momentum, and they just played super well against us.”
Soren Patchell handed out 30 assists for the Breakers. Natalia Hagopian had 12 assists and Ella Tyus had five kills.
By making the Division 1 bracket, Laguna Beach received an automatic berth into the CIF State Southern California Regional playoffs.
“We didn’t pass well enough to win, but we battled,” Shawn Patchell said. “I thought they served better than us, halfway through the fourth set and then into the fifth set. It’s disappointing a little bit, but we get to play again, so that’s the good news.”
Support our sports coverage by becoming a digital subscriber.