BURBANK – A perfect weekend concluded with a championship for the Flintridge Prep boys' volleyball team at the two-day long Providence High Tournament.
The Rebels competed along with area squads Glendale High and Providence and came out on top with a 25-15, 21-25, 15-11 victory over Oakwood in the championship match on Saturday afternoon as Flintridge Prep junior outside hitter AJ Nicassio was named Providence Tournament Most Valuable Player.
Flintridge Prep's Tim Treinen was also selected to the all-tournament team along with Oakwood's Mac Pogue and Hank Kussin-Bordo and Temple City's Ronny Diep. San Marino also earned an all-tournament selection that it did not disclose.
"Every game that we've played this year, we've gotten a little bit better," Flintridge Prep coach Sean Beattie said. "This tournament, I think what it did for us; it put us in some adversity and that builds character."
In the championship victory and a semifinal win over Temple City, Flintridge Prep found obstacles and solutions.
The Rebels routed Oakwood in the first set, 25-15, after leading at one point, 20-9.
A feisty Gorillas squad battled the officials and the Rebels in the second game, twice earning chastisement from the referee for arguing calls, while being given a yellow card.
The tactic worked on the court as Oakwood took the second set, 25-21.
In the deciding third set, however, Flintridge Prep broke open a tie at 10 with three straight points, two coming off kills from Treinen and Nicassio as the Rebels led, 13-10.
Nicassio finished with nine kills in the three-set victory, including a final cross-court spike that sealed a 15-11 triumph and tournament title.
"It's awesome to win this tournament and this MVP," Nicassio said. "This award goes out to my teammates. Our passing was phenomenal, our defense was great and we had plenty of hitters."
Treinen, the team's setter, tallied six kills and 36 assists, while Nathan Powell added six kills and Majeed Ismail contributed five kills.
Flintridge Prep earned its berth to the finals by rallying to defeat Temple City, 19-25, 25-23, 15-13. The Rebels started the day with a 25-18, 25-10 win over Village Christian.
Flintridge Prep (10-0) finished the tournament 5-0 after winning its pool Friday with 2-0 victories over Glendale and Ontario Christian.
While the start wasn't strong, Glendale closed out a 3-2 tournament run to take fifth place thanks to a 25-22, 25-21 victory over Cantwell Sacred Heart.
"Today it was just about coming out with energy," Glendale first-year coach Andy Cheng said. "It doesn't matter who we play, we have to have energy, support each other and not let anyone intimidate us. I really emphasized this year working together. Once we do that on the court, we're playing a much smoother game."
Prior to the fifth-place match, Glendale won an area showdown against host Providence 22-25, 25-20, 15-14 (only a one-point differential was needed) in the consolation semifinals.
The Pioneers took a 10-5 lead in the third set after a Nitros' service error, but witnessed Glendale (4-5) fight back via a 9-4 run capped on a block by junior Joseph Elento to tie it at 14. Nitros junior opposite William Pham finished off the come-from-behind victory with a kill.
Senior Frankie Olvera-Sanchez paced the Nitros with six kills and two blocks, while sophomore Akili Ligons added five kills and two aces and Joseph Nguyen chipped in three aces.
Zack Pikhart totaled 10 kills for Providence, which was 1-2 on Saturday.
Overall, the Pioneers finished the tournament 3-2 after opening Friday with 2-0 wins over Desert Christian and Cantwell.
After losses to Oakwood (25-23, 14-25, 15-11) and Glendale, Providence found some redemption with a 22-25, 25-16, 15-11 win over Village Christian in the seventh-place match thanks to 13 kills from Pikhart.
"With this team, we're not consistently able to make plays at the right time," Providence coach Nicole Brouilard said. "We're making errors when we should be making the play – too many randomly bad serves or we're swinging out of bounds. We just have to find a way to pull through."