Girls' Volleyball: Breakers break through at Newport Harbor

Raul Papaleo's first trip to Newport Harbor High certainly will be one to remember for the first-year Laguna Beach High girls' volleyball head coach.

The Breakers achieved a few things Tuesday at the Newport Harbor gym. First, they went to 3-0 on the season by scoring a 25-23, 25-18, 18-25, 25-14 victory over the Sailors. Second, the victory was the first in a best-of-five set match for a Laguna team over Newport Harbor since 2004.

Tuesday's triumph also marked the first time since 1995 that a Laguna team had won on the Sailors' home floor.

"That's what I've been told by our parents, and I'm happy with that," Papaleo said of the momentous achievement. "We did a better job of controlling our side of the court than we had done in our first two matches, and we didn't make as many mistakes as we had previously, either. This was a nice win."

Laguna, ranked No. 3 in CIF Southern Section Division 1A, took the first two sets to take control, and then put the Sailors (0-2) away in the fourth set.

Junior outside hitter Alyse Wallace-Ford turned in a match-best 23 kills to go along with eight digs. Junior outside hitter/opposite Sabrina Stillwell had eight kills and four digs, junior libero Francie Holte had 11 digs, sophomore setter Aspen Rocha had 16 set assists, seven digs and 2.5 blocks, and sophomore setter Taylor Cunningham had 12 assists.

Carolyn Bockrath had 19 kills for Newport Harbor which leads the all-time series between the teams, 28-12.

"Several girls played very well," Papaleo said. "Alyse [Wallace-Ford] led us with 23 kills, Sabrina Stillwell had several kills and our right side, with Cameron Dorn and Aspen Rocha, was strong. I thought Aspen did a good job of keeping the game simple with her sets."

Laguna ended the first week of its season Sept. 5 with a sweep of Santa Margarita. Wallace-Ford and Stillwell had 17 and seven kills, respectively, as the Breakers successfully launched their home schedule with a 25-21, 25-21, 21-17 victory at Dugger Gym.

Rocha and Cunningham combined for 27 set assists.

The Breakers start play Friday at the Dave Mohs Memorial Tournament, which is hosted by Edison High. The tournament continues Saturday and concludes with championship finals action Monday.

The tournament format includes four-team pools with each team playing two pool-play matches starting at 3:30 p.m. Friday. The matches are best-of-three to win.

Teams will also play one pool match Saturday starting at 8 a.m. Single elimination bracket play will follow the completion of pool play, and all teams advance to the playoffs. First- and second-place teams will compete in the Championship bracket. All third-place teams compete in the Silver division and fourth-place teams in the Bronze division.

The finals will be played Monday at Edison's Dave Mohs Gymnasium.

Laguna is the No. 2-seed in Division 1, Pool 5, and will play its pool games at Newport Harbor High. The Breakers start pool play at 3:30 p.m. Friday against Sage Hill. They'll play Crean Lutheran following the Sage Hill match.

The Breakers also play No. 1 pool seed Orange Lutheran at 8 a.m. Saturday.

Laguna has won the tournament four times, most recently, in 2006. Other tourney titles were captured in 1983, '89 and '91.

Following the tournament, Laguna returns home Thursday to play host to rival Corona del Mar in a 5:30 p.m. nonleague match. The Sea Kings this week are ranked No. 3 in Division 1AA.

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