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Teams get to stay home for playoffs

BURBANK -- The Providence High boys’ volleyball team wasn’t too happy

finishing the regular season third in the Liberty League.

The Burbank boys’ tennis team thought it should have won the

Foothill League title outright, instead of sharing the crown with

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Valencia.

Although the Pioneers and Bulldogs haven’t had their seasons go

the way they would have liked, the squads will get a chance for a

little redemption in the CIF Southern Section playoffs.

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“The playoffs are a chance for us to start a new season,”

Providence Coach Andrew Bencze said. “It is a good opportunity to see

how far we can go, and what we can do.”

Providence (10-11, 4-4 in league) and Bencze are happy with their

opening Division V draw. Providence will play at 7 tonight at home

in a wild-card contest against Thousand Oaks Hillcrest Christian.

Hillcrest Christian (2-10, 1-5) finished tied for third in the

Westside League.

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“We are pleased with the draw,” Bencze said. “I know Hillcrest

Christian is a small school and a very young team.”

The Saints took part in the 10th annual Providence Tournament in

March, finishing tied for last place among 16 teams. The Pioneers

placed seventh in the event.

With limited weapons, Hillcrest Christian does feature 6-foot-2

sophomore outside hitter Adam Livingstone.

For the Pioneers, they counter with a talented tandem of seniors

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-- outside hitters Ian Breckenridge-Jackson and Francis Sanchez.

Another key player is junior Tommy Boucher, who has developed into an

accomplished setter.

If Providence can get past the Saints, it would set up a 7 p.m.

Friday first-round match at Santa Monica St Monica. St. Monica (15-0,

8-0) is the Camino Real League champion and was ranked No. 7 in the

final division poll.

“We don’t want to look past anyone, but we’re excited about the

possibility playing St. Monica,” Bencze said. “We have played most

of the top teams in the division, in league and outside it, so we’re

really not afraid of any team.”

For Burbank (9-1, 13-5) -- the No. 1 seed from the league -- it

will open action in the Division II tennis playoffs at 2 p.m.

Saturday at the Burbank Tennis Center.

The Bulldogs will take on Santa Maria Righetti (6-6, 10-8), which

finished third in the Pac-5 League.

“I don’t know a lot about this particular Righetti team, but I

know it’s a pretty good tennis school,” Burbank Coach Paul McNiff

said. “I was just surprised when I saw they finished third in their

league.”

Burbank is coming off a season in which it won or shared the

league title for the 14th time in 16 seasons.

The Bulldogs are also no stranger to doing well in the playoffs,

having reached the division quarterfinals 11 of the past 14 years.

The team is led by league singles champion Haig Kassabian, who was

undefeated in league play for two straight season, amassing a 61-0

record. Burbank also has a good singles player in No. 2 Housep

Gasamian and a fine doubles team of James Chang and Ara Baghdasaryan.

“I might juggle the lineup a little,” McNiff said. “One of those

changes is I might move Ara up to singles and give him a chance.”

If the Bulldogs defeat Righetti, there is a good chance they will

play at 2 p.m. Tuesday against Chino Hills Ayala (17-2, 7-1), the

Sierra League champion.


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