BURBANK — It was tough for the Burroughs High girls’ volleyball team to get into any type of rhythm in its CIF Southern Section Division II first-round playoff match against Murrieta Valley.
The Indians struggled to patch things together with their setting and passing, and the Nighthawks took advantage of the hosts’ slow start to take an early two-set advantage.
Despite a late rally from the Indians in the third game, Murrieta Valley completed the sweep, 25-18, 25-13, 25-23, as Burroughs bowed out of the opening round of the playoffs Thursday.
“You don’t play teams like this very often,” said Burroughs coach Edwin Real, who has led the Indians to two straight Pacific League championships. “Our team is good, but we had issues with ball control today. We just had a hard time hitting the ball in the right place.”
The Indians were led by senior Lydia Grote. In her final Burroughs match, the University of California-bound outside hitter tallied 16 kills, a block and a service ace.
Indians junior Catie Virtue added eight kills and sophomore Charlotte Hobson recorded three aces.
The Nighthawks were powered by Rachel Yelenich, who tallied19 kills. Cassandra Orozco added five kills and four blocks. Murrieta Valley also received seven kills from Brenna Bell.
The teams were knotted three times in the early going of the opening set, but a five-point spurt gave Murrieta Valley an 11-6 lead. Burroughs climbed back to cut the Murrieta Valley lead to, 13-12, but the Nighthawks regrouped to restore its five-point lead late in the set.
“We did a good job executing our game plan and where we wanted to go,” Murrieta Valley coach Ann Romero-Parks said. “We were very specific with what our goals were and where we wanted to put the ball. That’s what we prepared for all week and the girls did a good job on that.”
The visitors outscored the hosts, 5-1, to close out the set with a win on a kill from Kimberly DeBoer.
“I know that we were all really pumped and we felt ready for this game,” Grote said. “But I think since we are in Division II, we kind of underestimated that we’re in a much bigger division now. We’ve been saying all along, but I think, overall, we needed to expect a tougher match.”
Murrieta Valley jumped to a 5-0 lead to start the second set before Burroughs woke up to cut the lead to one.
The Nighthawks ran away with it midway into the set with a 10-2 run to take a 16-6 lead. Despite a late run from Burroughs, Murrieta Valley took the game and a 2-0 lead.
The Indians trailed by four points early in the third set, but responded quickly to tie the set at 8. Burroughs took its first lead of the match, 11-9, since the start of the opening game.
“I think in that third game, it became real that this could be it and that it could be, for some, our last match here at Burroughs,” Grote said. “I think we really just pulled together as a team and made an overall statement to start playing and got our act together.”
With the Burroughs lead at 20-16, Murrieta Valley embarked on a 7-0 run to erase a four-point deficit and take a 23-20 lead over Burroughs before Virtue ended the run.
“We were backed up against the wall,” Real said. “In the second game, we were not very good and it looked like we had given up. But we bounced back and we played well. We were hustling a little bit more and getting to a lot of balls to build a little lead. They stepped up their game, as well.”
Virtue had two kills to put Burroughs within 23-22, but Yelenich rallied the visitors with five kills down the stretch of the third game to clinch the match for the Nighthawks, who took fourth in the Southwestern League.