LA CAÑADA — Though the members of the La Cañada High boys’ volleyball team saw their playoff run cut short, they already had turned their attention to next season.
Fielding a squad of mostly underclassmen, La Cañada enjoyed another breakthrough season by advancing to the second round of the CIF Southern Section Division III playoffs under the watch of coach Otto Lacayo.
La Cañada saw its season wrap up Thursday against Crossroads, which posted a 25-9, 25-19, 23-25, 25-22 victory.
“We knew coming into the season that we would have a lot of first-year varsity players,” said Lacayo, whose team finished at 15-12 and had eliminated fourth-seeded Yorba Linda in an opening-round match. “We made a lot of progress and this will help us heading into next year.
“We got better as the season went along. We’ll look to get better during the offseason and come back strong next year.”
La Cañada, which finished third in the Rio Hondo League, gave Crossroads (14-2) all it could handle. The Spartans fought valiantly in the third game, rallying from a 23-21 deficit.
The Spartans, who reached the quarterfinals last season, will return five starters next season.
Among them are juniors Mel Schroeder and Connor Walbrecht, who turned in superb efforts against Crossroads.
Walbrecht finished with 11 kills, seven digs and 28 assists. Schroeder collected 16 kills.
“We’ve already begun to move forward,” Walbrecht said. “We made some progress and we’ll look at next season being a whole new ball game.
“We’ll try to take league and we have a lot of players who have started to get the hang of things.”
“While we are still a work in progress, I think we can come out guns blazing next year,” Schroeder said. “In this game, we fought right to the end.”
La Cañada struggled in the first game, as Crossroads closed out on a 9-1 run. The Roadrunners used a 5-1 run to finish the second game.
Crossroads appeared on the verge of completing a sweep, building a 23-21, but the Spartans registered the next four points to force a fourth game.
In the fourth game, Crossroads held a 24-20 advantage. La Cañada pulled to within 24-22 before a kill by Charlie Hall sealed the victory.
La Cañada received 18 digs from Connor Belcher and seven from Jordan Cutler-Tietjen.
Follow Charles Rich on Twitter: @TCNCharlesRich .