PASADENA — The seventh annual San Gabriel Valley Boys’ Volleyball All-Star Match played out more like a meaningful playoff match than the exhibition benefiting charity that it was.
Sunday afternoon’s friendly at Pasadena Polytechnic School came down to a fifth game, where the Private School Senior Roster outlasted the Public School Senior Roster, 21-25, 25-21, 20-25, 25-23, 15-12.
Steven Weese of Alemany was named most valuable player of the private team, while Burbank High’s Rory Rickey garnered MVP honors for the Public School.
Rickey was joined by Bulldogs teammate Jonathan Ragheb, along with Diego Rosal of Burroughs, Gene Kim of Crescenta Valley and James Graf of La Cañada.
Crescenta Valley’s Jordan Nelson played with the Private School roster to even up the squads, numbers-wise.
Pacific League Player of the Year Cole Kaitz of league champion Burroughs was also a Public School member, but did not attend nor did Flintridge Prep’s Majeed Ismail for the Private School squad.
Rosal led the Public Schools with 21 kills, including five in the fifth game that saw seven tie scores with the final one at 12.
“The team that passed better and served better, whichever won that battle, ended up winning the [match],” said Rosal, who finished the season with 271 kills, good for sixth-best all-time in Burroughs history.
Rickey added 13 kills, with Ragheb finishing with nine.
“Private teams are known for being good and having steady coaching,” Rickey said. “Playing against them you know you need to compete and step it up.
“Came down to the basics. Serving, service-receive. ...Throughout the match, both teams went on runs and whoever could get out of it and correct the errors would come out on top.”
Public never trailed in the first game, taking seven of the first eight points. Private battled back to tie the game at 19 but couldn’t take the lead as Public used a service error to stay ahead and eventually clinch it with a Rosal kill.
Five points was the largest lead by either team in a tightly contested second game. Public hurt itself with five service errors in the frame, as Private sustained momentum to tie the match at one game apiece.
Remarkably, Public scored the first 13 points of the third on spectacular play at the net, notably Temple City’s Ronny Diep securing three points with blocks.
Trailing 20-5, Private took 12 of the next 13, including 11 straight to cut the deficit to 21-17 and prompting a timeout from Public, coached by South Pasadena’s Ivy Chew.
Despite making it interesting, the early deficit proved too much to overcome, Rickey getting the final point this time.
Private was the early aggressor in the fourth, taking eight of the first nine and leading by as many as 10 at 16-6. Public made a run, cutting the lead to one at 20-19, but couldn’t overtake the lead before Private forced a deciding fifth.
Rosal was the go-to for the Public offense in the fifth and answered with five kills. It was a see-saw affair the entire way, with the difference being blocking errors down the stretch for Public that allowed Private to take the final three points after the teams were knotted at 12.
“Competition went really well,” Chew said. “They have great offense; we have great offense. It was a good match-up.”