You might be seeing a lot of Mason Muñoz at Estancia High whenever there is a girls' volleyball match this year.
Mason is the 11-week-old son of Paul Muñoz, the coach of the Eagles. The Muñoz family brought the newborn to Thursday's Orange Coast League opener against Costa Mesa.
In the first match Mason attended, daddy's team won. Muñoz led the Eagles to a 25-23, 25-16, 25-19 sweep.
Muñoz calls his first child his go-to guy, but whenever Estancia plays its cross-town rival, it hasn't needed much help.
The Eagles beat Costa Mesa for the 19th straight time. The new father raced up to the bleachers afterward to see his son, who sat with Muñoz's wife, Kristy, and his parents, Benny and Rose.
"He's been a blessing in my life," said Muñoz, adding that his son's birth has changed how he approaches his players, his life. "We had a rough preseason. We got our butts kicked a couple of times [at the Dave Mohs Tournament]. But there's so much more outside that we're all dealing with. We've got to look past our little losses [in our record] and look [around and appreciate what we do have]."
Muñoz singled out one player, Emma Griffith. She's not able to play for the Eagles during her sophomore season because she was diagnosed in June with osteosarcoma, a type of cancer that starts in the bones.
Emma Griffith still shows up for Estancia's matches. She came out to support her teammates and her older sister, Abby. With Emma Griffith at the end of the bench, rooting them on, the Eagles played determined.
Abby Griffith, a senior middle blocker, led the way for Estancia (3-6, 1-0 in league). She recorded 20 kills.
She began the match at opposite. Coach Todd Hanson, in his first year with the Mustangs (3-8, 0-1), expected her to be in the middle.
"That's what all the girls on our team had said, 'They got a really big middle,'" said Hanson, referring to the 6-foot-3 Abby Griffith.
The move to opposite actually allowed the Mustangs to jump out to a 5-0 lead in the opening set. While their smaller and quicker middle blockers, Stephanie Willett and Haylee Jack, played well, the set grew tighter.
The set could have gone either way. The Eagles rallied to take the first set, 25-23.
"If Game 1 goes our way, I think it's a different match," Hanson said.
Starting Abby Griffith at opposite was by design. Muñoz wanted to see what the Mustangs came out with in the first set.
After almost losing the first set, Muñoz moved Abby Griffith in the second set to her normal spot, the middle. The Eagles dominated the rest of the way.
"Their middles … looked really young," Muñoz said. "Our middles [Abby Griffith and Dominique Kemp] are good, strong, mature."
Kemp recorded 11 kills and outside hitter Lehua Alama-Jordan added 10 kills.
Willett had seven kills and Jayme Krohnfeldt dished out 20 assists for Costa Mesa.
Next for Estancia is a test against the program that has won the Orange Coast League every year. The Eagles are at Laguna Beach on Tuesday.
"Absolutely we can compete with them," said Muñoz, who's in his fourth season at Estancia.
Maybe Muñoz's son can be the Eagles' good luck charm in downing the Breakers.