The Laguna Beach boys' volleyball team has developed its own personality throughout the 2011 season. Although it is much different than its 2010 predecessor, one that won a CIF Southern Section championship, the two teams have something in common.
Both are undefeated league champions.
The current Breakers continued the program's dominance in the Orange Coast League by winning a fifth straight title this week by defeating both Costa Mesa and Saddleback. The two victories allowed Laguna to complete a 10-0 league season. What's more, the Breakers swept all 10 league foes.
"We were not really tested through league. We've been pushed a bit, but not really tested," Laguna Coach Lance Stewart said. "We will definitely be tested in the next few weeks, however."
On Monday, Laguna (17-10) took care of visiting Costa Mesa, winning 25-7, 25-7, 25-7. The Breakers came back Wednesday to record a 25-17, 25-21, 25-10 win at Saddleback in their regular-season finale.
In the Saddleback match, senior hitter Robbie McKnight led the way with 19 kills and senior outside hitter Colin Ceithaml had eight kills. Senior libero Troy Donenfeld had 14 digs and junior setter Jack Winn had 29 assists and 10 digs.
Laguna has won 57 straight league games. The program last lost a league game May 9, 2009, to Costa Mesa.
Now that the regular season is in the books, the Breakers have set their sights on repeating as CIF champions. They take that first step Tuesday with a 7 p.m. Division 2 home match.
The Breakers will learn the identity of their first-round opponent when the CIF-SS office releases the boys' volleyball pairings at 9 a.m. Sunday, Stewart said.
They are in the Southern Section playoffs for the 38th consecutive year.
"We're not as mature as last year's team," Stewart said. "We play well at times, but we're not as consistent as I'd like us to be. But that's OK. We're healthy and fresh heading into the playoffs, and that's a very good thing."
Laguna enters postseason play ranked second in Division 2 behind Corona del Mar. If there's a favorite for the D-2 title, Stewart says it has to be the Sea Kings.
"I'd say Corona is the clear-cut leader," he said. "Beckman has played some decent volleyball and Valencia of Valencia is a solid, solid team and I don't know much about Oaks Christian. I wouldn't say the division is wide open, though. If Corona plays it's 'A' game, they are tough to beat. But I like our chances. We've been here before and we know what to expect.
"Heading into the season, we knew it was going to be a process. We really only had one player (Ceithaml) coming back from last year who was playing his same position. I think Robbie McKnight has adapted very well, moving from setter to a hitter and really provides us with a lot of points on the right side. And I think Troy Donenfeld has stepped up and played well at the libero position and has really taken on a leadership role. I think this team is ready for the playoffs."
Before the CIF playoffs get underway, the Breakers will play the program's alumni Friday at Dugger Gym.