BURBANK — In the second set of the Pacific League girls’ volleyball season finale between Burroughs High and Burbank, the Bulldogs were on the verge of a two-game advantage with a three-point lead.
Though the Indians had already won the league title outright, their perfect league record was at stake, and with the match at Burroughs, city pride was also on the line.
Cue Burroughs junior Catie Virtue.
The outside hitter struck three times to clinch the second-set victory, and Burroughs went on to take a four-set win over Burbank, 15-25, 26-24, 25-16, 25-10, to finish the regular season as unbeaten league champion.
“It feels great,” Burroughs coach Edwin Real said. “It was on our board. 14-0. We could’ve very easily said, ‘Hey, at least we won league at 13-1,’ but the girls really wanted to finish undefeated. It was on our whiteboard all season long.
“We don’t give up. That’s for sure. You can see in game two where it was critical. If you drop game two, then we’re in trouble. We showed we could settle and that we could come back.”
It marks the 10th straight win by Burroughs over its rival, a streak that dates back to 2014. The last time the Indians went undefeated in league play was in 2015. That season, Burroughs reached the CIF Southern Section Division II-A quarterfinals.
After losing the opening set, Burroughs (18-5 overall) held a 17-14 lead in the second set before Burbank scored six successive points to take a 20-17 advantage. A kill from Bulldogs senior outside Katie Treadway set up a 24-21 lead.
As Burbank was on the verge of taking a two-set advantage, Virtue struck twice to tie the score at 24. Virtue recorded a kill to take the lead and Burbank misfired on a ball into the net to tie the match at 1.
“In those tight sets, there’s a part of you that’s on edge and there’s a part of you that’s terrified,” Virtue said. “What I do is take a deep breath. I have five other girls who are out there that’s giving just as much as me. No matter how the set goes, we’re going to fight until the end. I just had to do my job and I knew everyone else had to do their job and we killed it.”
Burroughs received 25 kills and three blocks from University of California-bound Lydia Grote. Virtue finished with eight kills.
Treadway had six kills and three aces for the Bulldogs and Ashley Eskander added seven kills, five aces and 27 assists.
In the first set, Burbank took advantage of Burroughs’ early mistakes and established a 15-6 advantage after an 8-1 run. The Indians never got into the groove and the Bulldogs settled in to claim the set by 10 points.
“I thought we were passing pretty well and we were all in rhythm,” Burbank coach Karl Rojo said. “Our middles, our outsides and even our opposites were in rhythm. Our backward swings were fairly in rhythm, too. We were moving the ball around and that’s all we needed to do.
“Everything was flowing really well and we were playing really well as a team. We were passing well, communicating well as a team and just sticking together in the first set.”
Burroughs rode a 10-0 run backed by four kills and a block from Grote to set up a 23-12 lead in the third game. A Burbank service error locked in a 2-1 match lead for the Indians.
“It was a little heart-breaking to lose that [second game],” Rojo said. “I think we picked ourselves up and we fought back in that third set. There were maybe a couple of mistakes in that set that kind of put us down, but I thought we did pretty well.”
The Indians jumped out to a 9-1 lead to start the fourth set. Although Burbank battled back to cut the deficit to 18-7, Burroughs clinched the match on an ace from Joelle Burras.
Burbank (13-16, 8-6) finished fourth in the Pacific League behind Crescenta Valley and Arcadia.
Pairings for the CIF Southern Section playoffs will be released at noon on Saturday.
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