Mira Costa boys’ volleyball sweeps at Laguna Beach

Laguna Beach outside hitter Andrew Reavis records a kill against Mira Costa blockers Dain Johnson (8) and Jack Walmer (3) during a nonleague match at home Wednesday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

The Manhattan Beach Mira Costa High boys’ volleyball team made the CIF Southern Section Division 1 title match last spring, losing in four sets to Newport Harbor.

Unlike many of the top teams in Orange County, the Mustangs have not played a tournament this season. Wednesday’s nonleague match at Laguna Beach was just Mira Costa’s second match of the 2020 campaign.

But Mira Costa, which returns the vast majority of last year’s team, already appeared in midseason form.

Senior opposite hitter Sam Collins had 13 kills as the Mustangs earned a 25-19, 25-18, 25-20 sweep.

Collins is bound for UC Santa Barbara, coach Avery Dorst said, as is senior middle blocker Dain Johnson. Senior outside Jack Hopkins, who had 10 kills and two service aces, was another key returning piece of the Mustangs’ attack, along with Hawaii-bound senior setter Jack Walmer.

Junior Ben Coordt also had 10 kills for the visitors.

Laguna Beach's Josh Meiswinkel (29) goes up high to hit the ball over Mira Costa's Jack Hopkins (1) and Austin Wills (19) for a point during a nonleague match on Wednesday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

“We’ve been super-blessed,” Dorst said. “We’ve got super-deep teams. Our JV is so tough, and our frosh is so tough, because there’s so many good guys at Costa. There’s just so many kids that play volleyball in our area. It’s easy to reload. We always think like, we’re going to play a lot of teams that have great players. [Laguna Beach] has a couple of really great players on it, but we always have just gotta be thinking about how we’re going to be the deepest eight guys. That’s how we try to win. That’s our strength.”

Mira Costa (2-0) set the tone from the opening whistle, opening up an 8-1 lead in the first set. Laguna Beach (8-4) rallied within 21-17 on a kill from senior outside Andrew Reavis, one of his 12 in the match, but the Breakers couldn’t get closer.

Laguna Beach led 6-4 in the second set, but that quickly turned into an 18-10 deficit on an ace by Walmer. A late Breakers rally again came up short.

The last three CIF Southern Section Division 1 titles have been won by Newport Harbor and CdM, teams that reside in the Surf League, one of the top leagues in the nation.

“I was proud of how we came back in the first game, being down 8-1, but this collective group of volleyball players is not ready to beat a team like that,” Breakers coach Lance Stewart said. “Now, can we beat a team like that? By all means. We’re not there yet, and you don’t hang a banner for winning in March. I thought we hung with them, we just weren’t quite as experienced as them.

“We’ve got to learn to read better and just take care of our responsibilities. If we do that, we’ll be fine. They had a lot more weapons than we do, and in order to combat that, we’ve got to scramble more and touch more balls on our blocks so we can get it to our main weapons. They set the ball all over the place.”

Senior Geste Bianchi led the Breakers with 13 kills. He had five of them early in set three as the Breakers built a 14-10 lead, but they were unable to hold it. A kill by Hopkins finished off the match.

“We hit out of the back row really well, and I liked how we blocked at the pins,” Dorst said. “And I really liked the way we served at the start of sets. We got off a good start by hitting some pretty consistent serves at the beginning of each set. Jack Hopkins was our first server most of the night, and he did a really good job of just hitting a tough serve and not missing early.”

Laguna Beach returns to action with a home match against San Clemente on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.

Laguna Beach's Geste Bianchi (12) and Milo Zegowitz (4) combine to block a shot by Mira Costa's Austin Wills (19) during a nonleague match on Wednesday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

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