Laguna Beach fell into a two-game hole Wednesday against San Clemente and couldn't recover as the Breakers dropped a 25-21, 25-15, 25-27, 25-20 nonleague boys' volleyball match to the visiting Tritons.
Robbie McKnight had 30 kills and Alek Burk added 14 kills, Troy Donenfeld had 13 digs and Jack Winn 56 assists for Laguna, which fell to 7-3. Travis Wilson had 17 kills for San Clemente, which improved to 5-0.
"We played well but just didn't play long enough to get the win against a team ranked fourth in the county," Laguna Coach Lance Stewart said. "We were right there.
"I thought Robbie (McKnight) is getting more consistent and I thought sophomore Weston Barnes passed the ball real well. We also are starting to get more production out of our middles, Colin Ceithaml and Max McCarter."
The Breakers played a nonleague match March 11 against Dana Hills and beat the visiting Dolphins in five games, 20-25, 25-14, 25-23, 15-25, 15-13. McKnight had 33 kills, Donenfeld 28 digs and Winn 23 assists.
Laguna begins play today at the Orange County Championships at Edison High. The tournament, celebrating its 37th year, has 32 teams entered and split evenly among two divisions. The tournament begins with pool play and continues Saturday. The final day of competition is Monday, with the Division 2 title match at 5:30 p.m., followed at 7 p.m. by the Division 1 final, both at Edison.
Huntington Beach, which won last year's Division 1 side of the bracket, is back to defend its title. Norco also is back to try for a repeat as Division 2 champ.
Laguna reached the semifinal round of last year's event.
"This year' O.C. Championships will be extremely competitive given the parity among the tops teams in the county," Edison Coach Brian Boone said. "Orange County boys' volleyball has some of the best teams in the entire country competing at the highest level. Please come out and watch, it will be exciting."
Laguna, ranked No. 1 in CIF Division 2, is the No. 2 seed behind second-ranked Corona del Mar in Pool 2 of Division 1. Esperanza and JSerra also are in Pool 2. The Breakers open pool play at 4 p.m. against JSerra and take on Corona del Mar at approximately 6 p.m.. On Saturday, they play Esperanza at 9 a.m.
All Division 1 games in pools 1 and 2 are at Edison. Fountain Valley is hosting Pools 3 and 4.
"All the teams in this thing are good, but our pool is brutal, absolutely brutal," Stewart said. "I think Esperanza's the darkhorse. They beat Huntington Beach in four (games), Huntington beat us a few weeks back in three, and JSerra beat Dana Hills in three Wednesday. It's a tough, tough pool."
In Division 1, teams need to win two games (25 points rally score). A third game, if needed, will be played to 15. Games start at 3 p.m. Friday. The first- and second-place teams in each pool advance to the Gold Division playoffs at Edison. The third- and fourth-place teams move to the Silver Division playoffs at Fountain Valley.
In Division 2, the top two teams in each pool will play for the championship and the third- and fourth-place teams compete for the consolation title.
Admission each day is 5 for adults and $3 for students. There is no admission charge for children 12 and younger.
Laguna on Tuesday received strong play from its doubles teams — which won five of nine sets against Dana Hills —yet was on the short end of a 10-8 score. Laguna's top team of Hutton McKenna/Morgan Lebby and No. 2 team of Austin Loomis/Owen Webber both won their final two sets. Sophomore Teague Hamilton also won an exciting, back-and-forth match at No. 3 singles. He won when he took a tiebreaker over the Dolphins' No. 2 player, Chase Masciarini, winning, 8-6.
In previous nonleague action, Laguna lost at San Clemente, 13-5, March 11, and defeated visiting Newport Harbor, 12-6, March 10. The Breakers put on a strong showing in singles play in both matches, winning eight of nine sets against Newport Harbor and five of nine against San Clemente. Laguna's top singles, senior Jake Michaels, went 6-0 over the two matches and Hamilton, who played No. 2 doubles against San Clemente, went 5-1. Taylor Davidson and Nick Le, playing No. 3 doubles for the Breakers, picked up a key win over Newport Harbor's No. 2 doubles team of Christian Lee/Mathew Searcy to give Laguna momentum heading into the third round.
Laguna travels today to face St. Margaret's in a 3 p.m. nonleague match. Next week, the Breakers begin defense of their Orange Coast League title with an away match Tuesday (3:15 p.m.) at Estancia.
The Laguna girls' swim team picked up a 103-67 victory March 10 over visiting San Clemente. Lila Vera's time of 58.14 seconds in the 100 butterfly established a school record for the girls' program, Coach Kari Johnson said. Vera also won the 100 backstroke (1:00.60). Yoshi Andersen won both the 200 individual medley (2:21.90) and 100 free (57.35), Lexie Del Toro won the 100 breaststroke (1:18.92) and Melena Masson won the 100 free (26.61).
The Breakers also won three relay events: Taylor Capobianco , Vera, Andersen and Masson won the 200 medley relay in 1:59.97; Jessica Shusko, Jessie Holechek, Del Toro and Paige Watroba won the 200 free relay (1:49.93); and Vera, Masson, Capobianco and Andersen won the 400 relay in 3:48.86.
The Laguna boys were edged by the Tritons, 89-80. For the Breakers, Nile Koegel won both the 50 (23.54) and 100 free (50.58), Nicky Brunner the 200 free (1:56.69) and Billy Wild the 100 fly (55.76). The 200 free relay team of Koegel, Erik Henrikson, Brunner and Wild won the event in 1:35.04 and the foursome also won the 400 free relay (3:30.50).
Laguna begins its Orange Coast League schedule Wednesday with a 3:15 p.m. meet at Estancia.
Laguna picked up a 213-219 victory Wednesday over league foe Calvary Chapel. Andrew Palmer (36) was medalist for the Breakers at Aliso Viejo Country Club.
The Breakers also scored a 215-247 win over host Loara earlier this week at Dad Miller Golf Course in Anaheim.
Laguna takes on Estancia at 2:15 p.m. Tuesday in a league match at Mesa Verde Golf Course in Costa Mesa.