SUN VALLEY — As Burroughs High girls’ volleyball coach Edwin Real reflected on his team’s CIF Southern Section Division III quarterfinal match against top-seeded Village Christian, there was no sign that the Indians lost a close, tense playoff match.
In a hard-fought match, Burroughs went the distance against host Village Christian on Wednesday, but the No. 1 seed claimed the decisive final game to win, 25-17, 21-25, 22-25, 25-15, 15-11.
“At the end of the day, if you’re upset, then you’re not having fun,” Real said. “We were just having fun. We didn’t even talk about how they were the No. 1 seed. We just came out to have fun.”
In the decisive fifth game, the Indians kept it close early, but Burroughs’ errors and Village Christian’s commanding strikes gave the Crusaders an 11-6 buffer. Burroughs pulled within 12-10, but Village Christian responded with a kill and a block to make it set-point before a Burroughs service error sealed it.
The Indians, the co-Pacific League champions, slumped to an early, 5-1 deficit in their first game as they competed in their first quarterfinal since 2016.
Though Burroughs (24-8) contended, the Indians over-hit five shots and had four errors as Village Christian pulled away late for an eight-point win in the first set.
“I thought we were making weird decisions that we normally don’t make,” Real said. “But it’s what happens when adrenaline’s high and everyone’s playing hard and there’s [hundreds] of people in the gym.”
The Indians regrouped in the second set with a 5-1 start and fended off the Crusaders (32-9) — the Olympic League champion — late in the set as senior outside hitter Juliana Van Loo sealed the Burroughs’ four-point, set-tying win.
“We just relaxed,” Van Loo said of the second set. “It’s a different environment than we’re used to. When the second game came, we relaxed and played our game and that’s what helped us.”
Van Loo led the Indians with 18 kills and teammate Lydia Grote added 16
“We knew this was going to be a really close match,” Van Loo said. “We went in to it with the same intensity we’ve played in our other matches and go in with a good mindset, not overthinking anything, and just going in fresh and ready to play hard.”
Burroughs carried the momentum into the third set, where the Indians held off the hosts late in the set for a three-point win and the 2-1 overall lead.
The Indians had a 14-9 lead before the Crusaders surged to tie it at 17.
“We played better [in the third game],” Real said. “Our ball control was good, we were being aggressive with our swings, but then, at some point, they served a little better and our passing went out the window. We were making too many saves and we were running all over the gym.”
Things teetered toward Village Christian in the fourth set that featured four ties early before the Crusaders went on a 10-1 run midway through to force a fifth and decisive set.
“We’ve told our kids to take one point at a time,” Village Christian head coach Brent Asuka said. “Don’t worry about the last point, just keep moving forward and try to win the next point.”
“Burroughs is a good team. Give them all the credit in the world. We knew it was going to be a battle, and that’s volleyball.”