There was a lot of “Bump … Set … Destroy” for Laguna Blanca in Thursday’s 3-0 CIF win over La Mirada. Junior setter Annie Gabler sends a high outside set to Audrey Murphy on match point.

— NoozhawkSports (@NoozhawkSports) October 25, 2019

Laguna Blanca girls volleyball coach Jason Donnelly didn’t know much about his team’s first-round opponent in the CIF Division 6 playoffs.

So he kept his team focused on its side of the net and the Owls responded with a 25-22, 25-17, 25-19 sweep of La Mirada on Thursday night at Merovick Gym.

“I had no idea what this team was like which is very rare for this time of year,” said Donnelly. “I just couldn’t find any information. Fortunately for us, I was concerned with our side of the net and the kids played really well.

“We came out a little nervous but once we figured it out, we really played good volleyball and we sustained it throughout the whole night. We took them away from what they wanted to do and we were able to do what we wanted to do which was score from all three spots along the front row.”

Senior outside hitter Macy Christal led the Owls (19-5) with a double-double, pounding 14 kills and digging 12 balls. Ainsley McGovern added nine kills and Audrey Murphy had eight kills and two aces.

Junior setter Annie Gabler dished out 41 assists. Libero Bea Lujan led the defense with 17 digs.

La Mirada took an early 4-1 lead to open the match, then the Owls settled down. There were seven ties before Laguna went on a 5-1 run and opened an 18-14 advantage when Christal tipped an overpass for a kill. The Matadores got within a point at 21-20, then the Owls closed with a 4-2 spurt, capped by Delwiche’s kill through the block on a quick set from Gabler.

“Everyone felt really nervous going into it, this was our first time as a group playing in a match we all wanted to play in,” said Gabler. “We came out with a lot of energy and we really played as a unit, playing the game we love.

“Once we get into a zone and just go out there and focus on what we practiced and what we know how to do, it all works out pretty well. I’m confident in every one of our hitters and I trust them all. We’ve been working on our back-sets and I’m getting more confidence in those.”

The Owls dominated the second set, jumping out to leads of 8-2, 13-5 and 20-11 on back-to-back aces by Murphy. Delwiche closed her second straight set with a shot off the block on the second set point.

The third set was close in the early stages, then Laguna went on a 11-4 run to take a 16-9 lead. Christal ignited the run with consecutive kills off the block. La Mirada rallied to within two points (18-16) before the Owls pulled away by scoring seven of the last 10 points.

Murphy capped the 3-0 sweep by pounding a high outside set from the left side to the back line.

“Our outside hitters are a big part of what we have going on,” said Donnelly. “But it all happens when we take care of the ball, we try to set the middles early and then we can score on the right side. Ainsley McGovern has played great for us all year long and that gives us a great option because a lot of high school teams can’t score from the right side and we can.

“Our setter Annie played fantastic tonight. All year long, she’s kept all the hitters involved and she does what she needs to do be a quiet leader. She’s a junior playing with a bunch of seniors and she just keeps getting better and better. Her location is getting better, her decision-making is getting better and she’s bought into to what it means to be a setter at this level.”

Donnelly said his middles were a key to the victory.

“After the first three rotations, I knew we had the matchup in the middle with both Ella and Paige Levinson. Most high school teams don’t have two confident middles and we do. We got Ella a couple of swings early and they just couldn’t match that.”

Laguna won a coin flip and will host Mary Star of the Sea in Saturday’s second round at 3 p.m. Mary Star swept Katella 3-0 on Thursday night.