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Top-Seeded Eagles Sweep Into Final


NEWPORT BEACH — The Santa Margarita boys' volleyball team advanced to the Southern Section Division II final with a 15-10, 15-5, 15-5 victory over Torrance Bishop Montgomery Wednesday at Newport Harbor.

The top-seeded Eagles (18-2), who have won 12 consecutive matches and haven't lost a game in the playoffs, will play second-seeded Santa Barbara for the Division II title at 4 p.m. Saturday at Cypress College.

Santa Margarita Coach Eddie Rapp said he knew his team shouldn't overlook Bishop Montgomery (15-3), the Del Rey League champions. "Our scouting report said they'd be a big and strong team," Rapp said.

Bishop Montgomery Coach Mark McGuiness said he wanted to "neutralize a couple of their big hitters and try to eliminate one or two options" in hopes of upsetting the Eagles. But Santa Margarita capitalized on the Knights' errors and used its size up front to take control early.

Seniors Nick Mauro and Tim Gerlach and junior Marcus Skacel led the Eagles with 12 kills each and junior Adam Breault had 43 assists for Santa Margarita.

"We have a lot of good hitters and I wanted to spread [their defense] out," Breault said. "And it seemed to work."

Rapp agreed with Breault's assessment. "We use everyone and whoever's hot, we go to him," he said.

In the first game, the Eagles had a 9-2 lead before the Knights came back to tie the score, 10-10.

"That was a little momentum change for them," Rapp said. "But we took a deep breath and regained the momentum."

In the second game, Santa Margarita grabbed a 10-0 lead, helped by Mauro's four kills and senior Justin DeBlasio's two service aces.

The third game featured several service and hitting errors by Bishop Montgomery as the Eagles took a 13-5 lead before Gerlach, who had four kills in the third game, ended the match with two aces.

"[Bishop Montgomery] had trouble with passing and that allowed us to use our size at the net," Rapp said.

Said McGuiness: "That's the only bad match we've played this year. We didn't give them the fight we're capable of and we made a lot of mistakes and gave it away."

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