LA CAÑADA — In a contest that had the feel of a summer practice, the Flintridge Prep boys’ volleyball team earned advancement to the second round of the CIF Southern Section Division IV playoffs after a 25-12, 25-16, 25-8 victory over Nuview Bridge in Tuesday’s first round at Flintridge Prep.
The victory marked the second consecutive year the Prep League co-champion Rebels opened the postseason with a win and moved the squad into Thursday’s second round versus Hacienda League champion La Verne Damien (30-6-1), the divisional 10th-ranked team.
A coin flip on Wednesday at 9 a.m. at the CIF-SS office will determine who will be the home team.
As for Tuesday, Rebels Coach Sean Beattie wasn’t sure what to expect.
“Honestly, I was curious to see how we’d come out and play,” Beattie said. “You know we only have one player with any playoff experience and only two players from last year’s [quarterfinal] roster.
“I try my best to preach an even-keel style and hope to avoid the emotional roller coaster. Today, the team looked pretty calm.”
Perhaps the most adversity for the ninth-ranked Rebels (18-5) came early in the second game.
Freelance entrant Nuview Bridge (10-11-1) raced out to a 5-0 lead thanks to four Rebels’ attacking errors and an ace from senior defensive specialist Steven Rodriguez.
The Knights’ spurt ended, though, on a service error that spurred an eventual 10-3 run that included kills from Dante Fregoso (11 kills and five aces), Kyle Law and Trip Westmoreland (nine kills and two blocks) and was capped on an attacking error from Nuview Bridge.
While the Knights rallied behind two kills from team leader Cameron Jorgensen (12 kills, one block and one ace) to pull even at 10, the Rebels responded by scoring five of the next six points and closed out the game with a 15-6 run.
“We hadn’t actually played in a week and I thought we had a bit of a lull there in the second game,” Beattie said. “It was nice to see the guys respond. That was their best game of the match. It reminded me a little of the adversity that team overcame against [Pasadena] Poly.”
On May 6, the Rebels rallied from a 2-0 deficit to defeat archrival Pasadena Poly, 19-25, 23-25, 25-19, 25-21, 15-4, to clinch a share of the Prep League title and, along with a coin flip with league rival Chadwick, led to Flintridge Prep securing the league’s top seed.
Yet, there was no such dramatics a week later, as the Rebels broke open a 9-6 advantage in the first game with a 16-6 run fueled by three kills from Westmoreland.
In the clinching game, the Rebels also quickly pulled away from a 6-4 score with a 19-4 run that included at least one point from 10 different players.
Flintridge Prep setter Aldridge Kim also helped facilitate his team’s offense in finishing with 30 assists.
“We wanted to come out and be calm and we were,” said Rebels libero Zack Picker, who finished with a team-high 18 digs. “We knew who their biggest hitter was and set up the double block against him and just defended against everyone else. We wanted to treat this game like a regular game and we did that.”
Follow Andrew J. Campa on Twitter: @campadresports.