Laguna Blanca overpowers No. 3 seed Bell-Jeff

Everything was working for the Laguna Blanca girls volleyball team on Saturday, and that spelled big trouble for visiting Bell-Jeff.

The Owls were a model of efficiency. They took the third-seeded team in Division 4A out of system with tough serves, hammered balls from the outside and in the middle, and frustrated the Guards with scrambling defense en route to a 25-15, 25-18, 25-12 sweep in a quarterfinal match before a raucous crowd at Merovick Gym.

Middle Grace Woolf was nearly unstoppable in the middle, putting down 10 kills. Hannah White delivered a double dose of heat from the outside hitting position and the service line. She pounded seven kills and served up four aces.

“I just go back there and try to serve it as hard as I can, get to the right spot and hopefully it will go down,” said White.

Courtney O’Donnell recorded three aces and Bella Taron notched four kills and picked up 20 digs.

“We’ve been waiting for this moment since August first,” Taron said about reaching the semifinals. “From the first day of practice, we knew we were going to go far this year. Every practice we’ve been working hard, and we’re so excited.”

Laguna Blanca (15-5) will travel to Rolling Hills Prep for Tuesday’s semifinals. Rolling Hills Prep swept Frazier Mountain in the quarterfinals, 25-14, 25-20, 25-17.

Woolf set the tone early for the Owls with crushing hits in the middle. The score was 14-12 when Laguna Blanca’s Chloe Richman picked apart Bell-Jeff’s back row and increased the lead to 18-13.

In the second set, White went on a 7-0 serving run and Taron cranked a couple of kills to erase a 9-8 deficit. Bell-Jeff’s Mariah Bankhead caught fire and rallied her team to a 17-16 lead. But Jessie Duseabout’s kill for a sideout started an 8-1 Laguna run to close out the set.

The Owls kept the pressure on Bell-Jeff with more tough serving in the third set.

“We didn’t have a lot of serving errors,” Laguna Blanca coach Jim Alzina said. “We just put it in and set up our defense. When you don’t have a lot of errors, good things are going to happen.”

It was all good on Saturday.

Alzina said one of the great qualities of his team is its camaraderie.

“I thought our girls all played together,” he said. “We have a lot of unity on this team. We don’t have any big stars or anything like that, but everybody plays hard and when we play together we’re tough to beat.”

More to come