BURBANK — Since it resurrected its boys' varsity volleyball program two seasons ago, Burbank High has had a tough time against cross-town rival Burroughs.
In two years, the Indians dominated the city competition, earning sweeps in all four matches en route to back-to-back Pacific League championships.
For this season's first meeting between the squads, at least on paper, it looked as if Burroughs might have its hands full with the upstart Bulldogs. Burbank, off to its best start ever, came into Wednesday's matchup undefeated in league with only one loss to its record.
However, although the Bulldogs might have a talented group, they just don't seem to be at Burroughs' level just yet, as the Indians rolled to a 25-15, 25-15, 25-16 victory at home.
The win keeps Burroughs (9-3, 3-0 in league), ranked No. 8 in CIF Southern Section Division II, tied for first place in the Pacific League with Crescenta Valley (13-0, 3-0). The Indians and Falcons will clash for the first time this season April 11 at Burroughs.
"This game was bigger than it usually has been the last few years," Burroughs Coach Joel Brinton said about the match with Burbank. "But our guys didn't blow it up and make it more than just another match, and that's kind of how we wanted to approach it. The guys came out focused and I'm really happy about that."
From the early going, it appeared the Bulldogs (10-2, 3-1) were overmatched against the hard-charging Indians. Along with committing some untimely errors, Burbank just couldn't get its offense rolling and had a hard time setting up its players on the outside.
"We under performed today," Burbank Coach Patrick McMenamin said. "Burroughs was able to execute throughout the match and we were just not able to execute. We wanted to play our system, but Burroughs just did a good job at taking us out of our system.
"But give Burroughs credit; the way they played today they proved they are the team to beat in the league."
The Indians received a match-high 10 kills from Nick Van Loo, who also had four aces. Teammates Dalton Burroughs and Tristin Martin added nine kills each and Ryan Van Loo contributed 35 assists.
"We just wanted to approach this as just another game and come out like we usually do," Nick Van Loo said. "We didn't want to be concerned about [Burbank], we just wanted to focus on what we do.
"I thought that we played pretty well today. We really came out strong and we didn't give up throughout the entire game."
Burbank received four blocks from Willie Perryman and five kills each from Dylan Anderson (six digs) and Peter Jang (five digs).
Despite Burbank surging out to a quick start in the first game, the advantage was quickly erased when Burroughs jumped in front, 4-3, on a Bulldogs hitting error. The Indians increased their lead to nine, 15-6, following another Burbank hitting error.
The Bulldogs didn't fold under the pressure, battling back to make it a four-point game, 15-11, after a Perryman block. But Burroughs responded, coming back and increasing its lead to 10, 22-12, before closing out the game.
Burroughs errors in the second game allowed the Bulldogs to hang around. The Bulldogs tied the score at 11, prompting a time out by Brinton. At that point, Burroughs had committed nine unforced errors and Burbank had just two kills in the frame.
"We made some mistakes in that second game and that is pretty uncharacteristic of how we've been playing this year," Brinton said, "After the score was tied 11-11, I thought they did a good job at taking control after that point. After that tie, they were just on fire."
The Indians responded after the timeout, embarking on a 10-1 run that put the Bulldogs in a hole, 21-12, and eventually took the second game.
Burroughs took control early in the third game, but Burbank stayed in the contest. The Bulldogs were down just 17-14 late. However, the Indians finished things up by ending the stanza on an 8-2 run to claim the victory.