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Laguna Beach beats Flintridge Sacred Heart in straight sets

Laguna's Sophie Reavis (14) pokes the ball on the run past two Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy blockers.
Laguna’s Sophie Reavis (14) pokes the ball on the run past two Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy blockers for a point during a CIF Southern Section Division 2 girls’ volleyball match on Thursday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

The Laguna Beach High School girls’ volleyball team has a new lease on life.

Just last week, the Breakers’ season was on the brink. Laguna Beach swept Los Alamitos at home to square away their Surf League home-and-home set in its regular season finale. Then the Breakers topped the Griffins in a Surf League second-place tie-breaking match to qualify for the postseason.

More court time means more fun for the Breakers, whose new coach Sinan Tanik says their team chemistry was a strength from the start. The Breakers played free — one player even performed handstands — during their playoff opener on Thursday.

Senior outside hitter Sophie Reavis had a match-high 21 kills to lead Laguna Beach past visiting Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy 25-23, 25-14, 28-26 in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division 2 playoffs.

Laguna Beach's Dempsey Sadler (33) celebrates a block by teammate Sophie Reavis, right, on FSHA's Peyton DeJardin (55).
Laguna Beach’s Dempsey Sadler (33) celebrates a block by teammate Sophie Reavis, right, on Flintridge Sacred Heart’s Peyton DeJardin (55) during a CIF Southern Section Division 2 girls’ volleyball match on Thursday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

“We are a really, really close team, like we hang out every day outside of volleyball,” Reavis said. “I think that’s what has led us to have so much fun on the court because as much as I love the teams that are really serious, I love playing with a team that just likes to have fun, and honestly, we win when we have the most amount of fun.”

Laguna Beach (16-15) will remain at home to face Temecula Great Oak (17-5) in the second round on Saturday at noon.

Senior setter Natalia Hagopian had 28 assists, eight kills and three service aces for Laguna Beach. Junior outside hitter Brooklyn Yelland had 10 kills, five aces and four assists, senior opposite Sydney Freeman added six kills, and junior libero Dempsey Sadler had six assists and two aces.

Senior middle blocker Jacqueline Witteman also added three kills and two blocks for the Breakers.

Laguna's Dempsey Sadler (33) dives to save a ball during a long rally as Kyra Zaengle backs her up.
Laguna’s Dempsey Sadler (33) dives to save a ball during a long rally as Kyra Zaengle backs her up during a CIF Southern Section Division 2 girls’ volleyball match against Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy on Thursday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Laguna Beach had a 9-3 lead in Game 3, but it quickly evaporated with Flintridge Sacred Heart (24-14) finding new rhythm with reserve setter Emily Smith running the show. The Tologs caught up at 18-18, eventually earning a set point.

The Breakers were able to defend Peyton DeJardin’s bid to end the set, and Laguna Beach completed the sweep with a kill from Yelland on its fourth match point.

“Brooklyn’s actually a libero,” said Hagopian, a Northeastern commit. “She’s not even an outside [hitter], but it’s crazy how good she is doing, and she is literally killing it.”

Reavis, who is committed to UC Santa Barbara, had 12 kills in the third set.

Laguna's Sara Johnson (22) goes up against Flintridge Sacred Heart blockers Nikki Garriola (25) and Piper Scherbert (11).
Laguna Beach’s Sara Johnson (22) goes up against Flintridge Sacred Heart blockers Nikki Garriola (25) and Piper Scherbert (11) in a CIF Southern Section Division 2 girls’ volleyball match on Thursday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

DeJardin led Flintridge Sacred Heart with 12 kills and one block. Nikki Garriola provided five kills, Piper Scherbert had 4½ blocks, and Smith had 10 assists.

In an up-and-down season that saw just one winning streak of more than two matches during the regular season — a four-game winning streak at the Tesoro Tournament — Tanik said the Breakers showed character in answering the bell to qualify for the playoffs last week.

“We had our performance fluctuations, which is very normal in interscholastic settings because school comes in, life comes in, and other obligations, too,” Tanik said. “Our leaders took ownership of what they have and what they can do, and it’s really nice to see that they came around, especially in the last part to realize what they are capable of. The last part against Los Al was a very decisive two-day, two-game period that the team showed character.”

Laguna Beach's Brooklyn Yelland (9) goes up against La Cañada  Flintridge Sacred Heart blocker Milena Andrade for a kill.
Laguna Beach’s Brooklyn Yelland (9) goes up against La Cañada Flintridge Sacred Heart blocker Milena Andrade for a kill during a CIF Southern Section Division 2 girls’ volleyball match on Thursday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

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