By Mike Sciacca
10:34 AM PST, February 28, 2013
Laguna Beach High boys' volleyball coach Scott Panaro said that he was excited to get the 2013 season underway. Tuesday at Dugger Gymnasium, the second-year head coach had to feel pretty good about the Breakers' opening performance.
Laguna took down Edison for a 25-20, 25-20, 22-25, 25-12 victory over the Chargers of the Sunset League.
Senior outside hitter Weston Barnes had a team-high 15 kills for Laguna. Senior opposite Jackson Pries had 13 kills and three blocks, senior middle blocker Maxx McCarter had 10 kills and senior setter Grifan Fair finished with 45 assists and four aces.
Freshman Tyler Alter made his varsity debut and registered his first kill.
"The first match of the season is always critical as you are establishing a foundation to build upon for the rest of the season," Panaro said. "Setting the proper tone was important. I knew we would need a strong performance from our seniors to pull out a win tonight against a high-quality program like Edison.
"The boys were playing with lots of energy and emotion to start the match. Early on this lead to unforced errors on our attack, but they steadied out. [Grifan] Fair did a nice job of getting everyone involved in our offense. When we can be successful with our middle attack, it really helps the whole team by getting one-on-one matchups for the other hitters."
After taking the first game, Panaro felt the Breakers came out flat in the next two games. They won the second game, 25-20, but dropped the third, 25-22.
Laguna trailed, 10-5, 18-10, and 24-19, before staging a late rally in the third game that fell short. A nice service run by Fair combined with a string of kills by Barnes, helped the Breakers make it close.
"Early in Game 2, our energy was a bit flat, but the boys quickly pulled it together and went on a nice run of points due to [Jackson] Pries' blocking," Panaro said. "He had many key touches to slow their hitter's attack. Game 3, we came out flat and Edison had a sense of urgency that we were lacking."
The Breakers took command early in the fourth game to win handily.
"We came out playing with a purpose and quickly took control by serving tough and capitalizing on opportunities, leading to a win," Panaro said. "It was nice to see them respond with a strong performance in Game 4 after losing Game 3.
"Overall, it was a great first match of season and it feels to good to finally be playing matches."
The matchup with Edison was the first of two CIF Southern Section Division 1 tests this week for the Breakers who entered the season ranked No. 4 in Division 2. On Friday, they'll take on Newport Harbor at 5:45 p.m. on the Sailors' home floor.
The Sailors are ranked 10th in Division 1.
"Any time you play at Newport, it is a big deal," Panaro said. "They are one of the most storied programs in the country. They usually pack the gym and get great support from the crowd. I know they have some very talented players with lots of size and skill to go with it. It will be a great, early-season road test of us. I expect a battle."
The Breakers started their 2013 campaign Monday and dropped a 14-4 nonleague match to host San Clemente.
Teague Hamilton, at No. 1 singles for Laguna, swept his three sets winning 6-1, 6-0, 6-0. Morgan Lebby, at No. 2 singles, picked up the other point for the Breakers. Lebby posted scores of 0-6, 7-6, 2-6.
Laguna plays three, 3 p.m. nonleague matches next week starting with an away match at Mission Viejo Tuesday. The Breakers are home to Mater Dei on Wednesday, and to Newport Harbor on Thursday .
The Breakers begin their first season under new head coach Victoria Batistelli Friday hosting Capistrano Valley Christian at 4 p.m.
Laguna starts play Saturday with a doubleheader at the Costa Mesa Tournament. The Breakers open with La Quinta (Westminster) at 9 a.m., then play at 1 p.m. against Aliso Niguel.
Next week, Laguna visits Mission Viejo for a 3:15 p.m. nonleague game Tuesday, and plays host to Riverside La Sierra at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday.
The Breakers make their first splash of the new season Friday at home against Garden Grove Pacifica at 3:15 p.m. The next meet for Laguna is the Los Alamitos Coed Relays at noon on March 9.
Track and Field
The new season gets underway Wednesday for the Laguna boys' and girls' teams who will compete at home against Riverside La Sierra and El Dorado at 3:15 p.m. The Breakers also will compete March 8-9 at the Irvine/Asics Invitational at Irvine High.