Having survived a rugged nonleague and tournament schedule, the Laguna Beach boys’ volleyball team took the next step in its season journey by opening Orange Coast League play in the past week.
The Breakers are off and running in defending their title.
Laguna won its league opener on March 21 by sweeping Saddleback, 25-7, 25-8, 25-12. On Tuesday, the Breakers went to 2-0 by registering a road sweep at Estancia, 25-12, 25-3, 25-11.
The Breakers, 7-3 overall after the two matches, took on Calvary Chapel on Thursday. The score wasn’t available at press time.
“We are off to a great start,” Laguna Coach Scott Panaro said. “The boys have put together some strong performances. It has been great to get some other players who have been working hard, more court time.
“Strong serving has carried us and made it tough on our opponents. It is nice to see everyone playing well.”
Laguna, ranked third in CIF Southern Section Division 2, had won three straight matches heading into the Calvary Chapel game. The Breakers’ three losses have come to ranked teams: a five-set loss to San Clemente, the top-ranked team in Division 1, a three-set loss to Mater Dei, ranked seventh in Division 1, and a five-set loss to Esperanza, who is ranked one spot ahead of Laguna, No. 2, in Division 2.
The losses to Mater Dei and Esperanza came two weeks ago at the Orange County Championships.
“We have strong senior leadership,” Panaro said. “We had a long preseason where the boys worked very hard and made the sacrifice to wake up early for morning practices and lifting. I think they are seeing some of that hard work pay off. These boys love each other and play for one another. They want to see their teammates succeed just as much as themselves. We have a ‘team first’ mind set.”
The season is at its halfway point and spring break is just a day away. There is no rest, however, for the Breakers. But if you can’t have any down time, you might as well make the most of it: the team departs Tuesday for Oahu, Hawaii, where the Breakers will compete at the Kamehameha Cup tournament.
The 12 teams will be divided into pool play groups. Some of the top schools vying for the title are Huntington Beach and St. John Bosco, teams ranked fifth and ninth, respectively, in CIF Southern Section Division 1, Highlands (Ariz.), and Hawaii schools Kamehameha, Maryknoll, and Hawaii Baptist Academy.
The tournament begins Thursday and runs through April 6.
“Hawaii offers so many unique opportunities. We feel very fortunate to be invited,” Panaro said. “This is a great team bonding experience, in addition to all the obvious natural wonders Hawaii has to offer. The boys will be together for five days, making memories they will remember for the rest of their lives. It will be great to play some teams we typically don’t see and see how we stack up. We are very excited.”