Burroughs stays in title hunt

LA CRESCENTA — Consistency has been a theme this season for both the Crescenta Valley High and Burroughs girls' volleyball teams this season.

While the Indians worked on that problem during the preseason and have suffered through some uneven play at times, the Falcons have been battling all season to play more consistently during matches.

The problem was evident on both sides when the teams met Thursday in a Pacific League contest at Crescenta Valley. However, inconsistency was more of a dilemma for the Falcons, who played well in winning the second game and pushed the Indians to the brink of forcing a fifth game with a comeback in the fourth.

But it wasn't enough, as Burroughs snatched the fourth game to record a 25-14, 22-25, 25-8, 27-25 win.

"I can't be upset with this loss," first-year Crescenta Valley Coach Steven Umemoto said. "We battled in that fourth game and they were out there giving it everything that they had.

"We were inconsistent at times, like we've been before. But we didn't lose this one, Burroughs came out and beat us."

The win was important to Burroughs (11-5, 8-1 in league) because it keeps it in the race for a Pacific League championship. The Indians are one match behind league-leading Arcadia, a team they will host at 3:30 p.m. Thursday.

"We just have to go in there against Arcadia and play our best," said Burroughs Coach Edwin Real, whose squad fell to the Apaches in five games Oct. 5. "We just have to get three game wins."

The Indians had their hands full with a Crescenta Valley (7-5, 6-4) squad that wasn't about to go down to defeat easily.

In the fourth game, Burroughs enjoyed a seven-point advantage, 18-11. But behind senior Leah Gagliardi, the Falcons came storming back. They embarked on a 9-1 run to take a 20-19 lead.

The teams took turns holding the lead until Burroughs went up, 24-22. However, Crescenta Valley didn't wilt under the pressure, as it fought back to tie the score at 24. After the Indians were again one point away from sealing the match at 25-24, a kill by Gagliardi kept the Falcons alive again.

Following a Crescenta Valley hitting error, Burroughs was finally able to put the match away on a booming kill by Megan Stephenson.

"It was nice that we were able to come back and close out the match in that fourth game," Real said. "But it never should have gotten to that point. Sometimes we win the first game and we get happy, expecting to just win the second game. But we have to stay focused."

Gagliardi had 14 kills and teammate Kira Guarino added 10 kills and four blocks.

Umemoto said Gagliardi has been an invaluable member of the team all season.

"She knows she's going to get the ball, and the other team knows she's going to get the ball," he said. "But she is still able to come up with the kill. She is just a very good player."

Stephenson paced the Indians with 18 kills, while Kathy Henry added 13 kills and Katy Dick had eight and Laura Howard had eight. Teammate Catarina Emerson had 29 assists and Victorie Santos had 24 digs.

Burroughs came out and played well in the first game, leading the entire way. The closest the Falcons would come to the lead late in the game was 18-12.

It was Crescenta Valley which grabbed the momentum in the second game. After the Indians took a 2-1 lead, the Falcons quickly erased that advantage and never trailed the rest of the way. The Indians did tie the game at 21, but couldn't grab the lead.

It was total dominance by Burroughs in the third game, as it jumped out to a 13-1 lead. The Falcons could muster just three kills in the game.

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