It’s on to Regional Playoff
Laguna Beach played a near flawless set in the first-ever finals match Saturday, May 21, with longtime rival Corona del Mar in the CIF Division 2 championship at Cypress College. But the Breakers were unable to sustain their momentum and the talented Corona del Mar squad (29-4) played to their potential, defeating the defending champion Breakers 23-25, 25-15, 25-14, 25-16.
Even so, Laguna Beach now advances to the enrollment-based state regional playoffs between the top teams from the Central, Los Angeles, Southern and San Diego sections. This week, the two-time defending champions and top-seed Breakers defeated Vistamar 25-14, 25-22, 25-19 despite missing top players. Robbie McKnight was held out to rest his knee and setter Jack Winn was ill.
Laguna was led by Alek Burk and Colin Ceithaml with 11 kills apiece while Austin Hillemann added nine, Ethan Morris six. Troy Donenfeld had 14 digs, Burk 11 while Alex Bekken dished out 37 assists.
Laguna’s greatest threat comes from SS CIF D-III champs Valley Christian (30-4), who play at Dugger Gym on Thursday, May 26, at 7 p.m. Breakers are the two-time defending state regional D-III champions and are shooting for their third straight title. The Crusaders advanced to Thursday’s match with a 25-20, 25-21, 25-22 win over Santa Fe Christian from San Diego.
On Saturday, CdM took an early 4-0 lead in the first set but the Breakers rallied back to chip away at the Sea King’s lead to tie the set at 21. After a brief deficit, Breakers scored the last two points for the win, stunning the large crowd to see a set loss.
Breakers trailed 12-10 in set two before the Sea Kings took off, digging every Breaker attack and using their middles to block and kill to a 13-3 run to the finish. The advantage continued into the third set where Laguna never threatened with nine hitting errors.
The confident Sea Kings were on a roll to earn their seventh section title to tie Santa Ynez with the second most CIF titles behind Loyola’s 11. Breakers are tied for fourth with Mira Costa at six.
For the match, McKnight led the squad with 22 kills, while Austin Hillemann had the best hitting percentage with a .333 average and 13 kills. Alek Burk and Colin Ceithaml had five each. Burk had another strong defense performance with 11 digs and 20 serve receives. Troy Donenfeld took 27 serves and also added nine digs. Jack Winn dished out 43 set assists, two kills, and 13 digs.