Last season, the ride home from Cerritos College was considerably more joyous for Laguna Blanca, the newly crowned Division 4A CIF champion. They had just swept Calvary Chapel Christian School-Murrieta and all was right with the world. The two teams met again Saturday, again to decide the champion, but this time the ball bounced a very different way.

The Owls lost in three tough games, 25-23, 25-16, 25-19, after having a 22-17 lead in that all-important game one. Laguna’s passing, its solid strength of late, faltered momentarily.

“We didn’t play poorly,” noted Owls head Coach Jason Donnelly, “we just didn’t do some of the things tonight that we’ve been doing very well lately. We were up 23-20, and a girl went back for them and ripped a couple of top-spin serves that we couldn’t handle. Five quick serves and it was over.”
Games two and three were close most of the way, with outside hitters Jackie Harvey and Katie Borden bringing heat for the Owls. But Calvary Murrieta just played with a bit more authority at crunch time to close out each game.

“We bounced back and played hard but they were just the better team tonight,” Donnelly said. “A few balls that could have bounced either way went down for them and that’s all it takes sometimes.”
The new champions enjoyed a celebratory ride home to Temecula, while the Santa Barbarans were left with the frustration of a potential repeat title that had been so close at hand. But the superb coaching and consistency that has come to charactize Laguna volleyball will likely perpetuate the same pride and performance this 2007 team displayed, and plenty of future title contenders. And many more happy bus rides home.