The 2011 season is just two weeks away for the Laguna Beach High girls' volleyball team.
Coach Lance Stewart begins his 11th year with nine players returning from a 2010 squad that reached the CIF semifinals. The Breakers lost three starters (Chanel Stewart, Mackenzie Hester, Lauren Capobianco) from a team that fell to eventual Division 1-A champion Marymount.
Laguna begins the season at the Queen's Court tournament Aug. 27-28 at the American Sports Center in Anaheim. Last year, Laguna reached the tournament final, where it lost to Edison.
"It doesn't count on our record, but it's a good chance to see how we look and what areas we might need to work on," said Stewart, who's guided the Laguna program to three Southern Section titles. "Any time a score is kept, it's a good thing to get into your game flow."
Laguna, as usual, faces the challenge of formidable nonleague schedule. In the first week of the regular season, it hosts Corona del Mar (Sept. 13) and two days later travels to face Newport Harbor (Sept. 15). Other big dates on the schedule are nonleague matches against Torrey Pines (Sept. 21) and Mira Costa (Oct. 24) and appearances at the Dave Mohs Tournament (Sept. 23, 24 and 26) and Torrey Pines Tournament (Oct. 14-15).
"That first week is a tough one," Stewart said of matches against CdM and Newport Harbor. "They both are loaded and those matches will be a good testing board for us. Newport will be absolutely awesome and CdM is very talented.
"We don't duck playing anybody. You gotta play the best to be the best. We'll show up for every match and we're gonna compete."
Below is a quick capsule look at the 2011 Breakers:
Head Coach: Lance Stewart (11th year)
Coaching staff: Steve Astor; Whitney Pavlik; Kimberly Friedel
2010 record: 21-9
League finish: First-place (10-0)
CIF playoffs: Reached Division 1-A semifinal round (lost to Marymount)
Returning players: Marina Paul, outside hitter, Sr.; Avery Bush, outside hitter, Sr.; Caroline Holte, middle blocker, Sr.; Rachelle Killian, setter, Sr.; Allison Palmer, setter, Sr.; Julia Goggin, middle blocker, Jr.; Marissa Greenough, outside hitter, Jr.; Sevana Dvorak, setter, Jr.; Alex Murphy, opposite, Jr.
Returning with honors: Marina Paul (all-Orange Coast League); Caroline Holte (all-league); Allison Palmer (all-league, All-CIF); Julia Goggin (all-league).
Stewart's take: "We're going to be pretty athletic and pretty quick and I think we might be a really, really good serving team. We have three to five people who can go back and go on big runs, and that's huge. We should be a pretty good team by the end of the season."
Did You Know?: Laguna Beach has not lost an Orange Coast League match since the inception of the league, which begins its sixth year in the fall. The Breakers are 50-0 all-time in league matches.
Aug. 27-28: at Queen's Court Tournament (American Sports Center, Anaheim)
Sept. 13: Corona del Mar (5:45 p.m.)
Sept. 15: at Newport Harbor (5:45 p.m.)
Sept. 21: at Torrey Pines (5:30 p.m.)
Sept. 23-26: at Dave Mohs Tournament (at Edison High)
Sept. 27: *Estancia (5:30 p.m.)
Sept. 29: at *Calvary Chapel (5:30 p.m.)
Oct. 4: at *Godinez (5:30 p.m.)
Oct. 5: Vista Murrieta (5:15 p.m.)
Oct. 6: *Costa Mesa (5:30 p.m.)
Oct. 11: at *Saddleback (5:30 p.m.)
Oct. 13: at *Estancia (5:45 p.m.)
Oct. 14-15: at Torrey Pines Tournament (at Alliant International University, Scripps Ranch)
Oct. 19: *Calvary Chapel (5:30 p.m.)
Oct. 21: *Godinez (5:30 p.m.)
Oct. 24: Mira Costa (5:15 p.m.)
Oct. 25: at *Costa Mesa (5:45 p.m.)
Oct. 27: *Saddleback (5:30 p.m.)
Oct. 28: Alumni Game (6:30 p.m.)
Nov. 9: CIF playoffs begin
* Orange Coast League match