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Laguna Beach’s Nicole Struss repeats as Surf League girls’ water polo MVP

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Laguna Beach’s Nicole Struss (16), shown firing a shot against Newport Harbor in the CIF Southern Section Division 1 semifinals on Feb. 19, earned her second straight Surf League MVP honor.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Laguna Beach High junior utility player Nicole Struss has earned Surf League MVP honors for the second straight girls’ water polo season.

Struss helped the Breakers (33-1, 6-0 in league) win the league for the second straight year and go on to defend their CIF Southern Section Division 1 title. Laguna Beach rallied to beat Foothill 7-6 for the crown.

The Breakers also won the CIF Southern California Regional Division I title, earning a 17-8 win over the Bishop’s of La Jolla 17-8 in final.

Struss was second on Laguna Beach with 74 goals. She added 28 assists and 25 steals, and led the Breakers with 61 exclusions drawn.

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Also earning first-team all-league accolades were Laguna Beach juniors Emma Lineback, Molly Renner and Rachael Carver, as well as Newport Harbor junior Olivia Giolas and sophomore Morgan Netherton, and Corona del Mar senior goalkeeper Maya Avital.

Lineback, a left-handed attacker led the Breakers with 80 goals, was second on the team with 59 assists and added 32 steals. Renner, an attacker, had 63 goals, 43 assists and 34 steals. Carver, an attacker, scored 37 goals, adding a team-best 60 assists as well as 41 steals, also a team-best total.

Giolas and Netherton helped Newport Harbor (23-9, 4-2 in league) finish second in the league and advance to the Division 1 semifinals for the first time since 2015. The No. 4-seeded Sailors lost there to No. 1 Laguna Beach, 9-7.

Avital, bound for Stanford University, provided another year of stellar goalkeeping for CdM (12-16, 2-4), which finished third in league play but failed to advance to the CIF Southern Section Division 2 playoffs due to a sub-.500 overall record.

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Second-team all-league selections included Laguna Beach senior Morgan Van Alphen and junior Emma Singer, Newport Harbor senior Emily Cantu and sophomore Taylor Smith, as well as CdM senior Kira Hoffman and junior Grace Myers.

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