Laguna now one win away

Boys' volleyball team reaches CIF final, with only archrival Corona del Mar standing in the way of a repeat crown.

May 19, 2011|By Mike Sciacca,
  • Laguna's Tyler Kesler hits the ball into the outreached hands of Arroyo Grande's Winston Stearns, left, and Danny Meritt, right.
Laguna's Tyler Kesler hits the ball into the outreached… (Don Leach, Coastline…)

The Breakers are back for seconds.

A year after winning a CIF Southern Section championship, the Laguna Beach boys' volleyball team will play for another title after coming back from a game down Tuesday to defeat visiting Beckman, 26-28, 25-22, 25-19, 25-22, in a Division 2 semifinal match. The win sends the second-ranked Breakers to Saturday's Division 2 final at 4 p.m. at Cypress College against No. 1-ranked Corona del Mar.

The Sea Kings defeated Trabuco Hills, 3-0, in Tuesday's other semifinal match-up.

"We're excited to be going back," Laguna Coach Lance Stewart said after his Breakers fended off a stiff challenge from Beckman, the third-place team behind Corona del Mar and Irvine in the Pacific Coast League. "This was a tough one, but we played great.

"My definition of great play is doing what you are capable of doing over and over, until you reach your goal. We did that tonight. We passed the ball well and made some really great digs in those final few games."


Outside hitter Robbie McKnight played a stellar game for Laguna. The senior delivered big kills that prevented Beckman from taking the lead in the third and fourth games.

McKnight registered 41 kills.

"Robbie was unbelievable tonight," Stewart said. "I also thought Alek Burk played great. He passed at about a 2.8 clip and he was nails. Our outside hitters had kills when we needed them and our middles, although they didn't have a lot of kills, really played big. It was a great team win."

Laguna held an 11-6 lead in the first game and was still in front, 17-14, on a McKnight kill. But Beckman rallied, creating a 17-17 tie on a back-row kill from UCLA-bound Chris Long, who also played spectacularly. Laguna was at set point three times in the game but the Patriots got a 28-26 win when the Breakers mishandled a ball at the net.

"We were a little bit out of sync in that first game," Stewart said. "We were out of position and as a result, some of our digs were just out of reach. That No. 9 (Long) is a fabulous athlete."

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