Breakers Win Third Regional Title
Deep in the fourth set last Saturday at the state CIF Southern California regional f\Finals, the large and once boisterous contingent of Laguna fans at Irvine Valley were deeply concerned that the Breakers were slipping closer to losing the championship match after a victory looked so easy at first.
Laguna had cruised through set one 25-17, recording seven service aces in the one-sided affair before complacency seemed to set in. Francis Parker climbed back into the match with a 25-18 set two win. In winning the opening set easily, Laguna seemed to lose the fire to complete the sweep. San Diego’s Lancers seemed determined to end the Laguna dominance and stormed back in set three from a 6-3 Breaker start to win 25-20.
The pivotal fourth set seemed to start all Laguna, but a number of self-inflicted mistakes let Parker back into the contest as the Lancers moved out to an 18-12 lead. Coach Stewart called another time out hoping to re-kindle a faint glimmer of hope in the Breaker varsity. Laguna came back out to take the side out on a kill by Robbie McKnight. Tough serving by Conner Cooper added two more points and Laguna seemed to reignite. After a side-out point gave the Lancers a 18-15 lead, Laguna came back to go on a five point run with some energized serving by Troy Donenfeld and Alek Burk, which added some deadly kills. The Breakers started to exert a serious block as the team recorded a set-high six blocks for points down the stretch. The now engaged crowd roared with approval as a thunderous block by McKnight and Colin Ceithaml sealed the 25-22 set victory, sending the match to the deciding game.
The fifth set had the gym rocking with excitement. Laguna continued their comeback, taking charge from the first serve never to trail. Kills by McKnight, Burk, and Austin Hillemann were too much for Francis Parker to handle as setter Jack Winn dished out a balance attack to keep the Lancers guessing all the way to a 15-8 Laguna victory.
Robbie McKnight finished the afternoon with 26 kills, three aces, five blocks, two assists, and seven digs. Alek Burk added 10 kills, three block assists, one ace, and nine digs. Colin Ceithaml added eight kills and seven block assists, Austin Hillemann eight kills, Jack Winn four aces, six digs and 45 assists.
Breakers (23-11) already are the only Southern Section team ever to win three straight Southern Section boys volleyball titles (1981-83) now are the only squad ever to do the same in the state regionals.
Laguna returns four starters from the seven player rotation used in most matches this season. The JV program has been very strong the past few years so expect Laguna to be capable of adding a fourth title in 2012.