Coach Raul Papaleo’s era opened with a fifth place finish in the elite division at the fourth annual Queens Court Tournament played last weekend at Anaheim’s American Sports Center. The two-day tournament shows that the Breakers will be in the Division IA title race and can compete with the other So Cal top teams.
Laguna started with three sophomores and three juniors in the line-up: Aspen Rocha, Kelsey Ford, Emily Dworakowski along with Alyse Wallace Ford, Danielle Quirarte and Sabrina Stillwell. Everyone on the 15-player roster contributed and clearly showed why they are on the varsity team. Expect a number of substitutions this season if the squad hits a rough spot with their challenging schedule.
In the tournament Laguna opened pool play on Saturday, stopping Dos Pueblos 25-16, 25-15 behind a balance attack of Alyse Wallace Ford and Sabrina Stillwell. Breakers then took care of last year’s state CIF D-II finalist and D-IIAA champs ML King in three sets, 15-25, 25-15, 15-9 as Stillwell, Ford, Cameron Dorn, and Aspen Rocha hammered the Wolves. Danielle Quirarte was strong at serving with four aces.
In the final opening pool match, Laguna edged Santa Margarita 25-23, 17-25, 15-13 behind the hitting of Ford and Francie Holte’s stellar defense.
Breakers then advanced to the top eight group and finished Saturday defeating Chaparral/Temecula 23-25, 25-23, 15-7 as Sage Patchell proved to be one of the squad’s best servers, ending the final set with four aces in her final five serve attempts. Ford had her best match with the Pumas, hammering 14 kills.
On Sunday, Laguna lost to Tesoro, last year’s IAA semifinalist, 25-19, 25-23, and to Dana Hills 25-15, 25-16. To finish fifth, Laguna avenged last year’s playoff loss defeating Capo Valley 25-18, 16-25, 15-12 and a rematch with Chaparral 29-27, 25-15.
Ford dominated overall kills with 75 of the team’s 191 points. Stillwell was second with 31 followed by Dorn with 26 and Rocha with 21. Rocha and Patchell led in aces with eight followed by Stillwell with seven and Quirarte with six. Top blockers were Ford, Kelsey Paul, and Quirarte. Aspen Rocha dominated the setting with 85 assists while Emily Dworakowski added 21, Taylor Cunningham 21, and Charlotte Rubel 19. On defense, Holte, Ford, Stillwell and Rocha were the top diggers.
FINAL Tournament Standings: 1 – Mater Dei, 2 – Los Osos, 3 – Dana Hills, Tesoro, 5 – Laguna Beach, 6 – Chaparral, 7 – Capo Valley, Santa Margarita, 9 – Vista Murrieta, 10 – Corona del Mar, 11 – ML King, Rancho Cucamonga, 13 – Oaks Christian, 14 – Yorba Linda, 15 – Dos Pueblos, Marlborough.
This past week Laguna scrimmaged D-3 finalist Sage Hill on Tuesday, Aug. 27 in preparation for the 2013 season opener on Tuesday, Sept. 3 at J Serra.
Breakers open at home next Thursday, Sept. 5, 5:15 p.m. with Santa Margarita. Laguna and the Eagles have met 11 times in a best of five set match with Santa Margarita holding a 6-5 series edge.
Football Season Opens Sept. 6
Next Friday marks the 80th season since the first Laguna football players took to the field. The 1934 squad was considered a JV team playing only three varsity level games including their first on Sept. 25, 1934 at Valencia and the first home game on old Laguna Field on Nov. 8, 1934. Art Sherman, who was profiled in the Indy, was one of the few players still living from that day.
This Friday, Laguna takes the field against Bolsa Grande a team they have beaten four straight times in a series led by the Breakers 6-3. Corey Brown begins as Laguna’s 15th head man with only five coaches in the previous 14 winning their varsity opener. His old boss Mike Churchill along with Mike Roche, Lyman Olney, Dennis Haryung, and Red Guyer did so.
Breakers success will rest on Nathan Lancaster, the senior running back with a career 1,460 yards on 115 carries with 18 touchdowns – that’s 12.7 yards per rush attempt! Also expect Keaton Martinez, whose two older brothers play at Nebraska, to contribute to the offense.
Directing the offense will be Jack Simon hoping to join Austin Paxson (2008) Charley Bowman (2005) Ryan Schissler (1997) and Lance Stewart (1978) as successful sophomore starters.
Defense lost a number of gifted players in Drake Martinez, Robert Clemons III (now at Yale) and Robbie McInerny (UC Berkeley). This will be an area to watch as to how the new players and backups fill in the gaps.
Bolsa Grande was only 1-9 last year and should provide the Breakers a good test to prepare for the tougher non-league matchups they face the following weeks.
Kickoff is at 7 p.m. The Laguna food truck court returns for pre-game dining.