Third-seeded Mira Costa opened the CIF 5-A girls volleyball playoffs Thursday night against a team accustomed to facing strong competition.
Estancia of Costa Mesa finished third in the Seaview League behind Newport Harbor and Corona del Mar, the top two seeds in the division.
Except for a few close calls late in the third game, though, Mira Costa had little trouble advancing to the quarterfinals with a 15-5, 15-8, 16-14 victory at home.
Mira Costa Coach Dae Lea Aldrich, who has guided the Mustangs to four CIF championships in five years and two consecutive 5-A titles, said she was pleased with the effort, considering the opponent.
"I knew Estancia would be a good, scrappy team," she said. "I knew they had some great games and great competition in their league. I was a bit nervous because our league plays much slower."
The Ocean League champions improved their record to 15-1 and will meet Santa Barbara in a quarterfinal match Tuesday night at a site to be determined today by coin flip. Santa Barbara advanced with a 15-3, 15-3, 13-15, 15-5 win over Bishop Montgomery.
Setters Karen Greiner and Piper Hahn led a strong serving attack for Mira Costa, which doesn't have the powerful hitting game of a year ago.
Nonetheless, Estancia Coach Tom Pestolesi was impressed.
"Obviously they're not as powerful as before, but their ball control is always unbelievable," he said. "We matched up with them power-wise. Service reception was the difference."
Estancia (10-7) had trouble passing the ball early, leading to an easy Mira Costa win in the first game. The Eagles settled down but never took more than a 4-point lead in the last two games.
Mira Costa's only scare came late in the third game. After rallying from an 8-4 deficit to take a 14-9 lead, the Mustangs couldn't put the match away and Estancia came back to tie, 14-14.
Hahn, a sophomore whose sister Lindsay was 5-A player of the year in 1985, jump-served for an ace, and an Estancia passing error closed out the match.