Venturing north Wednesday for a key nonleague match against yet another highly ranked opponent, the Laguna Beach boys' volleyball team ran into a buzzsaw in Huntington Beach.
The Oilers, who have been playing on all cylinders as of late, won Wednesday in a sweep by defeating the Breakers, 25-17, 25-14, 25-19. The win allowed Huntington, ranked seventh in CIF Southern Section Division 1, to take a 15-13 series lead on Laguna, which is ranked third in Division 2.
"Nothing went right," Laguna Coach Scott Panaro said. "We made mistakes with our lineup in the third game, and that's on me. Besides that, we didn't compete the way we needed to in order to beat a quality team like Huntington. That's a very good team and we needed to be at our best. We weren't."
Huntington went up, 2-0, in games after cruising to a 25-14 win in the second set. Laguna, which fell to 14-7, came out strong in the third game, leading by as much as two points early. The Breakers held their last lead at 8-7 and the game was tied six other times. The Oilers took the lead for good (10-9) following a serving error by the Breakers.
Laguna also was hit with three rotation violations throughout the set and Huntington, getting three aces from outside hitter Brendan Sander, went on a 7-0 run to pull away. The Breakers made a late charge, but a put back by Sander closed out the match.
Weston Barnes had 14 kills, Austin Hilleman added seven kills and Jack Winn (12) and Grifan Fair (11) combined for 23 assists for the Breakers.
Huntington's impressive win came one day after the Oilers (11-3) swept past defending-champion Newport Harbor in a battle for the top spot in the Sunset League. The Oilers had swept all four of their league opponents entering Wednesday's match. Their only losses this season have come against teams ranked in Division 1: Servite (No. 2), Mira Costa (No. 3) and Mater Dei (No. 9).
"We're playing really well right now," said Huntington Beach Coach Craig Pazanti, whose squad was playing the second of three matches in three days. "Laguna's a very good team and I told our guys before the game that there should be no letdown. We just beat Newport and I wanted them to stay focused for this match. I was happy with our effort and energy."
Wednesday's match was the only one this week for the Breakers, who hadn't played since scoring a 25-16, 25-15, 25-8 Orange Coast League win March 29 over Costa Mesa. Barnes and Hilleman had 14 and 11 kills, respectively, Maxx McCarter had nine kills and Winn finished with 23 assists.
The Breakers are off next week for spring break. They next play on April 17 when they travel for a 5:30 p.m. contest at Saddleback.
The Breakers, ranked fourth in CIF Division 4, collected two big victories in the past week, including a 10-8 nonleague win Tuesday over Sage Hill at The Tennis Club.
Laguna gained the advantage in singles play. At No. 1 singles, Teague Hamilton swept by 6-1, 6-2, 6-0 scores and No. 2 Morgan Lebby also swept with 6-2, 6-4, 6-1 wins.
The Breakers' doubles teams of No. 1 Beau Heussenstamm and Oliver Nasiell, No. 2 Thomas Connor and Sam Wellsfry, and No. 3 Andrew Koumas and Casey Kimball each won a point.
Sage Hill entered the match ranked No. 3 in Division 3.
Laguna also moved a step closer to repeating as Orange Coast League champion after posting an 11-7 road win at Estancia. The Breakers, despite playing the match without Lebby, defeated the Eagles for a second time this year. The Eagles are ranked seventh in Division 4.
The win put Laguna at 5-0 in league play with three league matches remaining.
Laguna also played a nonleague match Thursday at Cerritos. The score wasn't available at press time.
During spring break, Hamilton will compete at the United States Tennis Assn. National Spring Championship in Palm Desert. Following spring break, the Breakers resume league play with a 3:15 p.m. match April 19 against Godinez at Santa Ana Valley High.