Goal one: win a CIF Southern Section championship.
Goal two: win a CIF Southern California Regional championship.
In a week’s time, the Laguna Beach High boys’ volleyball team accomplished the two goals it had aspired to at the beginning of the 2010 season.
By winning a section and regional title, the boys’ volleyball team became the second Laguna sports team in school history to win two postseason titles in the same school year. The boys’ cross-country team first accomplished the feat in the fall by winning a CIF and State title.
The Breakers won the CIF Southern Section Division 2 championship May 22 by sweeping defending-champion Westlake at Cypress College. Senior outside hitter Scottie Chapel said there was no way the team would suffer a letdown after the Breakers gave the school its first Southern Section title in the sport since 1983. No, not with the Southern California Regional Championships, and unfinished business, on the horizon.
It wasn’t even “an option,” he said.
No, Laguna was zoned in on the regional tournament and had little trouble repeating as Division 3 regional champion.
The Breakers made easy work of Santa Fe Christian of Solana Beach on Saturday at Irvine Valley College, winning the final in a 25-18, 25-16, 25-17 sweep.
To get to Saturday’s title match, Laguna opened regional play May 27 against Arrowhead Christian and rolled to a 25-8, 25-17, 25-13 home sweep.
“We wanted to take both titles. That was our goal from Day 1 this season,” Chapel said. “To be honest, winning CIF was the more difficult goal to achieve, but it’s just as cool winning the regional. We are going out as the first Laguna volleyball team to win two titles in the same year. That’s pretty cool.”
The Southern California Regional tournament has been held just four times. The first two tournaments were played in 1975 and ’76, then the event went on hiatus until being resurrected last year. Laguna participated in three of those four tournaments and now has back-to-back regional titles to its name.
Only Loyola of Los Angeles can make the same claim.
The Southern California Regional Championships places schools by division according to enrollment size.
“With our school, we don’t have a volleyball team, we have a volleyball program,” Laguna Coach Lance Stewart said. “Because of that, we can compete with any school, any size. We’ve gone up against schools much bigger than us throughout the year and did quite well, In fact, in the (CIF-SS) quarters, semis and finals, we played and beat schools that were twice our size. That’s a testament to the skill and work ethic of our players.”
The two regional wins gives Laguna a 25-8 final record.
Chapel, who will attend Ohio St. in the fall, knew that Saturday’s regional championship match would be the final time on the court with all of his teammates.
“We all knew it, we all talked about it and we were fired up about playing one last time,” he said. “We wanted to go out with a bang.”
And so the Breakers did. Chapel, however, has one more prep game. It’ll be at 7:30 tonight, as he and fellow senior teammates Reed Thompson and Travis Woloson will play for the South in the boys’ Orange County All-Star Volleyball match at Newport Harbor.
Stewart is one of the coaches for the South boys’ team.
“It’s going to be fun. I get to coach these kids one more time,” Stewart said. “I just wish the season wouldn’t end.
“This has just been a tremendous year for our program and I’m just so happy for the kids. They worked their tails off and sacrificed for each other, and they reaped the benefits of that hard work. The season had its tough moments, but a lot of great ones. What these kids can take with them is that they did something that no other Laguna Beach volleyball team has done, albeit that the regional tournament has only been held the last two years. They join a select group of Laguna volleyball teams that have won a CIF championship.”