BURBANK — Down the stretch of each set in its CIF Southern Section Division II boys’ volleyball opening playoff match, Burroughs High mustered up key plays at incredibly crucial moments against Sherman Oaks Notre Dame.
Behind the trio of Kade McGovern, Connor Burroughs and Jagger Green, the Indians found a way to quell the Knights’ late rallies.
Burroughs completed a first-round sweep, 25-21, 27-25, 25-23, against Notre Dame at home Tuesday to start the postseason with a hard-fought victory.
“Staying on top of the side-out game allowed us get the opportunity to close out,” Burroughs coach Joel Brinton said. “We kept telling them it’s the playoffs. When it’s on the line, they’re going to play harder and harder, so we need to find a way to execute crisper, crisper and crisper.
“Maybe that means playing harder. Maybe that means pulling the pass off the net as opposed to attack the net. So many situational things, but when you get as many reps as you get through the season, we should be prepared for whatever the situation calls for.”
The Indians (20-12) — the 10-time Pacific League champions — will host Sea View League champion Mission Viejo (23-5) at 6 p.m. Thursday in a second-round contest. The Diablos swept Long Beach Wilson, 25-23, 25-13, 25-19, in their first-round playoff match.
Late in each set, Burroughs saw itself on its heels against a rallying Notre Dame (19-11-1) team that was at least two points away from tying each game.
The Indians held a five-point lead in the first game before the Knights scored three unanswered points to pull within two, 23-21. However, Notre Dame committed two errors to give the hosts a first-set victory.
“We executed some things that we wanted to and I think our middles did a really good job to start and set the tone at the start of the match,” Brinton said. “When any team is able to do that, it’s going to be pretty good.
“Notre Dame got a little run going when they were able to get their middles going, too. I don’t think they attacked very well at the start, but our serving played a big part. As the match went on, the attacking really picked up.”
Burroughs held a 15-11 lead in the second set, but Notre Dame rallied to knot it at 17 after a Knights’ timeout. The Knights tied the score five ties before McGovern and Connor Burroughs helped the Indians to a 24-22 advantage. Notre Dame battled back to tie it at 24 before taking a one-point lead.
Green then struck a kill down the middle of the court to tie it at 25, and McGovern followed a Notre Dame error with a game-point ace to give the Indians a 2-0 lead.
“We did a really good job to get those opportunities to get those good plays,” McGovern said. “We did a great job passing tonight. We did a great job getting at a system with our serves and it worked to our advantage in the tough parts of the game.”
The Indians took the momentum and jumped to a 9-3 lead in the third game, courtesy of three kills each from Connor Burroughs and Green. A Notre Dame timeout put the Knights on a rally, tying the third set at 9.
Burroughs managed to urge to a 18-14 lead midway into the set, but Notre Dame’s hitters started to get in a groove to cut the Indians’ advantage to 19-17.
The Indians, again, pulled away and were two points away from closing out the sweep, but the Knights rallied to slice the Burroughs lead to 23-22. The Knights kept it close until the end, and with the hosts leading 24-23, Burroughs struck a kill down the line to complete the sweep.
“We really clamped down on the hitters and we knew our priorities,” Connor Burroughs said. “It really helped with our blocking and we had really good runs going to help us pull ahead.”
Burroughs finished with a game-high 11 kills, McGovern added 10 and Green contributed nine kills and two blocks. Carter Cottrell spread out 25 assists and Sam Tipton registered 22 digs.
“We’re all really striving to prolong our season and we’re going hard at it,” McGovern said. “It’s just whoever shows up to play. I think we both did tonight.”