Laguna notches ho-hum victory

The Laguna Beach girls' volleyball team won, as expected, in its CIF Southern Section Division 1-A playoff opener Tuesday.

The Breakers, champions of the Orange Coast League, disposed of visiting Atascadero, beating the Pac 7 League's No. 4 team, 25-12, 25-9, 25-19, at Dugger Gym.

Senior outside hitter Chanel Stewart and senior opposite Mackenzie Hester had 10 and nine kills, respectively. Junior outside hitter Marina Paul had six kills and 15 digs, junior middle blocker Caroline Hotle had five kills and junior setter Allison Palmer had 28 assists and 11 digs.

Laguna, which improved to 19-8, is the division's No. 4 seed. The Breakers journeyed Thursday to Yucaipa to take on the Citrus Belt League's second-place team in a second-round match. The winner of that contest advances to Saturday's quarterfinal round against the winner of Thursday's Vista Murrieta-Upland match.

The scores from Thursday's second-round contests weren't available at press time.

The semifinals are set for Tuesday and the division championship match is either Nov. 19 or Nov. 20 at Cypress College.



The Laguna Beach boys' and girls' cross-country teams have reached the point in the season to which both have set their sights set on for the past two months: the CIF Division 4 Preliminaries.

The prelims for both squads are Saturday at Mount San Antonio College in Walnut. The CIF Division 4 Finals are Nov. 20, also at Mt. SAC.

The top 16 teams from prelims, advance to next weekend's finals.

"We should be healthy for CIF," boys' Coach Scott Wittkop said. "Alec Toro missed league finals with the flu and we held Tyler (Nichols) to make sure he would be ready for CIF.

"The kids have worked hard all year and I believe it will pay off this Saturday with a trip to the finals."

Wittkop considers Bosco Tech, which heads the Division 4 poll, and second-ranked Norte Dame/Sherman Oaks Academy, to be the team favorites heading into prelims.

Last week, both the Laguna boys' and girls' teams ran to Orange Coast League championships at Centennial Park in Santa Ana.

The Laguna boys captured the league title with 36 points. Godinez was second with 45 points, followed by Saddleback (49), Costa Mesa (133), Calvary Chapel (136) and Estancia (147).

Laguna senior Matt Neev finished second in the boys' varsity race with a time of 15 minutes 0.7 seconds, just behind Godinez sophomore Jose Penaloza (14:59.55).

Three other Breakers finished among the top 10: junior Jeff White (16:21.12) was fourth, junior Ryan Jones (16:35.33) was eighth and senior Aaron Swartz (16:37.56) was 10th.

Laguna sophomore Mitch Kimball (16:40.97) was 12th, junior Tim Williams (17:05.01) was 19th and sophomore Kevin Tovar (17:06.39) was 22nd.

"They did a great job, with two of our top five not running, the kids really stepped," Wittkop said of his team's performance in spite of Toro and Nichols being absent from league finals. "It was impressive to watch them run in the heat and win the league title. Ryan Jones and John Kimball really pulled through for the team when we needed them. We also had solid performances from Matt Neev, Aaron Swartz and Jeff White."

The Laguna girls claimed a league crown with 37 points. The Breakers easily out-distanced runner-up Godinez, which finished with 67 points. Estancia (72) was third, followed by Costa Mesa (76) and Saddleback (100).

Laguna junior Natasha Strickland won the girls' varsity title by winning the race in 19:07.37. Senior Carly Savage (20:08.25) was fifth and junior Taylor Capobianco (20:16.06, seventh) and sophomore Grace Clark (20:37.12, 10th) also finished in the top 10.

Junior Marisa Merchant (20.56.87) finished in 14th place and freshmen Marlee Grosher (21:40.07) and Audrey Rodriguez (21:53.72) placed 20th and 22nd, respectively.



The Breakers reached the halfway point of their season Tuesday when they took on San Clemente at Salt Creek Beach.

Standouts for Laguna included Kris Williams, who put together two great heats to finish second in both of his boys' shortboard and longboard heats. Travis Sampson took third in his shortboard heat and fourth in longboard. Coaches Scott Finn and Alisa Cairns said Sampson had some "really nice tubes and nose rides."

Rex Strombotne found some nice, long rights, to finish third in boys' shortboard.

In addition, Adam Redding-Kaufman, Austin Silvers, Dane Zarinelli and Blair Conklin all had noteworthy performances and Skyler Vanderveen also picked off a nice wave at the start of his heat, which was his first event of the season, Finn and Cairns said.

The Laguna girls had a "bit of a rough day," with a few Breakers not feeling well. Brenda Joseph's solid effort earned her a fourth-place finish in shortboard.

The Breakers meet Dana Hills next week at Salt Creek.

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