It didn't start out the way they had hoped Tuesday, but the ending is what counted for the Laguna Beach High Breakers, who moved on in the CIF Southern Section Division 1-A girls' volleyball playoffs.
The No. 2-seeded Breakers came back from a set down in their first-round match against Claremont to win the next three sets, and come away with a 21-25, 26-24, 25-19, 25-23 victory over the visiting Wolfpack at Dugger Gym.
Laguna's balanced attack included 14 kills and nine digs by Cammie Dorn, and 13 kills and 11 digs by Sabrina Stillwell, 12 kills and 18 digs by Sage Patchell, Danielle Quirarte had eight kills and eight digs, Francie Holte had a team-high 26 digs, and Aspen Rocha had 27 assists, six kills and 15 digs.
Claremont, an at-large team from the Sierra League, finished 14-13.
The Wolfpack defeated Serra (Del Rey League at-large) in a wild-card match Saturday, to advance to Tuesday's match with Laguna.
"I thought we had some great contributions, all around," Laguna Coach Raul Papaleo said. "I also thought we didn't play as well as we could have, but we managed to win. [Claremont] played really well.
"We need to improve on our passing. Games are generally won on two skill sets, serving and passing."
Laguna (20-9) advanced to play San Juan Hills (Sea View League No. 2) which on Tuesday swept West Ranch (Foothill League No. 2). The score from Thursday's second-round match wasn't available at press time.
The division quarterfinals are Saturday, and the semifinals are next Tuesday.
A season that was beset by injuries but turned out to be another success, came to a close Monday for the Breakers in the quarterfinal round of the CIF Southern Section Division 2 playoffs.
Laguna, a co-No. 2-seed in the tournament, was eliminated from title contention by visiting Beverly Hills, which posted a 13-5 victory.
The match featured several close sets but the Ocean League champion Normans, ranked sixth in the division, were able to squeeze out the win against the Orange Coast League champs.
The Breakers finished the year 14-4, and went undefeated in OCL play.
"Beverly Hills was a tough opponent," Laguna Coach Don Davis said. "We had some chances in a number of sets that we needed to win, but came up short. We lost some close ones."
The Breakers won two sets in singles play. At No. 1, Kira Hamilton picked up a point (4-6, 6-3, 4-6), as did No. 2 Ashley Shelton (6-4, 2-6, 0-6).
Laguna scored its other three wins in doubles. The No. 1 team of Sarah Nederlander/Madeline Loomis posted 4-6, 6-4, 4-6 scores, and the No. 2 team of Bailey Jaeger/Natasha Keces registered two wins (6-4, 6-2, 2-6).
The Breakers had advanced to Monday's quarterfinal round by edging host La Canada, 10-8, Nov. 8. The Spartans were runner-up to San Marino in the Rio Hondo League.
San Marino is the top seed in the tournament and the division's defending champion.
Hamilton won twice (6-0, 6-0, 0-6), Shelton (6-1, 1-6, 1-6) and No. 3 singles Ashley Fair (0-6, 7-6, 3-6) both won once. Nederlander/Loomis earned a sweep with scores of 6-0, 6-3, 6-0. Jaeger/Keces won two sets (2-6, 6-4, 6-2), and No. 3 doubles Stephanie Tat/Malia Helms picked up one point (6-2, 6-7, 0-6).
The Breakers began postseason play Nov. 6 and scored a 12-6 win over El Dorado (Century League No. 4).
The team season may be over for Laguna, but six Breakers will compete Nov. 25 at the CIF Individual Qualifying Sectionals. Representing the league at the tournament will be Hamilton, the OCL singles champion, and Shelton, the singles runner-up, and the OCL doubles team champion, Nederlander/Loomis, and league runner-up Jaeger/Keces.
Top Laguna singles and doubles records for the season: Hamilton (23-4); Shelton (35-6); Fair (12-13), Nederlander (35-12); Loomis (36-13); Jaeger (13-5); Keces (43-16); Tat (33-19); Helms (26-9).
Injuries took their toll on the Breakers including injuries that sidelined Hamilton and Jaeger during the season. Senior Brooke Michaels, last year's OCL singles champion who played at No. 1 doubles this year, was lost to a season-ending injury early in the season.
"Injuries were a big part of our season but the girls played well all season long, and bounced back from those injuries," Davis said. "I'm proud of this team and proud that we made our way to the quarterfinals."
Boys' Water Polo
The Orange Coast League champion Breakers, 17-11 and the sixth-ranked team in CIF Southern Section Division 2, began postseason play Thursday against Damien (Sierra League No. 2). The score from the first-round match wasn't available at press time.
Laguna and Damien previously met in a nonleague game Oct. 25. The Breakers scored a 13-7 win over the then-ninth-ranked Spartans.
The winner of Thursday's Damien-Laguna game advances to play a second-round game Saturday against the winner of the Thursday first-round game between No. 4-seed Villa Park (Century League No. 1) and Great Oak (Southwestern League No. 3).
The division semifinals are Wednesday at the William Woollett Jr. Aquatic Center in Irvine. The double-header starts at 5 p.m.
Two Laguna Beach High athletes, Preston GrandPre and Cara Borkovec, signed a National Letter of Intent Wednesday, Laguna Athletic Director Mike Churchill announced.
GrandPre (baseball) signed with Cal, and Borkovec (women's water polo), signed with USC.