Laguna Beach battles, but falls in semifinals


LAGUNA BEACH — A match between two of the top seeds in the CIF-SS boys volleyball playoffs lived up to its billing Wednesday.

After splitting the first two sets, top-seeded Oak Park trailed in the third set, too. The visiting Eagles rallied to win the third set and went on to beat the fourth-seeded Breakers, 25-20, 22-25, 25-23, 25-22, securing a spot in Saturday’s Division 2 final.

“That’s a tough one,” Oak Park coach Patrick Quinn said. “We had to fight and earn it. It could’ve went either way.”

Oak Park will play Valencia of Valencia at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday at Cerritos College.

“It’s the sixth time (going to the finals) in 10 years for me,” Quinn said. “I’ve only won one. I’d like to win another.”

Oak Park took the first set with solid net play, led by Adam Parks and his teammates on the front line.

The Breakers fought back in a tight second set that featured 12 ties. At 18-18, Laguna Beach broke through with five consecutive points and won the set, 25-22, with an emphatic kill by Pete Obradovich.

In a furious third set, Laguna Beach looked to have taken control by building a 16-12 lead, but Oak Park tied the set at 17 with a combo block by Parks and Grigory Manyak. The teams were tied in the set four more times until Oak Park used a 3-1 run to claim the set, 25-23.

“I don’t think it took the wind out of their sail,” Laguna Beach coach Darren Utterback said of the third-set setback. “You get that four-point lead and sometimes you take a deep breath when you’ve got to push harder.”

Oak Park jumped out to a 13-3 lead in the fourth set and held off a late Laguna Beach charge to win the set, 25-22, and the match.

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