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Burroughs has shot at making history

BURROUGHS HIGH — There is a vast difference in playoff experience between the boys’ volleyball programs at Burroughs and Cerritos Valley Christian highs.

The Crusaders are consistent postseason participants, and the program won a CIF Southern Section championship in 2007.

In contrast, the Indians have only fielded a program for five years. Prior to this season, the furthest Burroughs had ventured in the playoffs was the second round after winning its first-ever postseason match last season in the opening round.

But the Indians have made a meteoric jump this season, a jump of historic proportions. Burroughs is not only on the cusp of winning the program’s first CIF championship, but it has a chance to notch the first team title in the 63-year history of the ¿school.

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No. 1-seeded Burroughs will get that chance against No. 2 Valley Christian. The teams will meet at 2 p.m. today at Cypress College with the Division III championship on the line.

Coach Joel Brinton said despite not having a wealth of playoff experience, he doesn’t expect his Burroughs (33-3) squad to be scared in today’s match.

“I don’t think our guys are going to be intimidated at all,” Brinton said. “We’ve played a lot of volleyball matches this season and they’ve been through a great deal. They have been working towards this goal since, really, the start of the school year. So, I don’t think intimidation will be a factor at all.”

The two teams have a history this season, as the Indians have defeated the Crusaders already. Burroughs earned a 25-21, 25-17 victory in the semifinals of the Valley Christian Tournament.

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Brinton said despite the previous win against the Crusaders, it doesn’t mean that much, taking into consideration Valley Christian was missing some key players for the match.

“They are definitely a different team than when we first saw them,” he said. “We are well aware when we played them earlier this year that two of their best players were out. So we expect to see something different than we saw from them the first time around.”

Coached by Rob Samuelson, the Crusaders (28-4) have captured Olympic League championships for seven straight seasons. The team is led by senior outside hitters Chris Albers and Kyle Pollema, senior setter Kyle Davis, senior libero/outside hitter Mike Klein and senior libero/opposite Jared Prins.

Valley Christian comes into the championship match after defeating host Camarillo, 25-19, 25-22, 22-25, 25-18, in a semifinal contest Tuesday. The result marks the first time the Crusaders surrendered a game in the playoffs this season, having rolled to three-game sweeps against Ocean View, Placentia Valencia and Torrance.

In the win against Camarillo, Pollema had 28 kills and Albers had 19 kills, 25 assists and two aces to lead the team against the No. 3-seeded Scorpions.

The Crusaders have also won 13 of their last 14 matches. Burroughs has also enjoyed success late in the season, as the team is on a 17-match winning streak. In addition, the Indians have earned sweeps in 28 of their 36 contests.

The last time the Indians tasted defeat was March 15, when it fell, 25-21, 25-22, to Palos Verdes in the championship game of the Village Christian Tournament. Burroughs’ only other losses have come against Warren, 25-21, 22-25, 15-11, and Redondo Union, 25-22, 25-18, both in the Redondo Tournament in March.

Burroughs also gave up its first game of the playoffs in its semifinal match Tuesday at host South Torrance, as the Indians fought back from a one-game deficit to win in four, 22-25, 25-23, 25-22, 25-18.

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The Indians — the champions from the Pacific League — had a first-round bye and also rolled CIF to three-game wins against Rio Mesa and Cypress.

Burroughs possesses a talented core of players that includes reigning All-Area player of the Year, senior setter Tyler Yanez. Tyler’s brother, Lucas, a senior outside hitter, and junior middles Robbie Rutecki and Ike Nwachie.

“I think the biggest thing for us is going to be our ability to control our nerves and be able to just go out and play,” Brinton said. “That is always a key factor in a big game like this. We need to maintain our collective focus and not try to get too emotional in the wake of the situation.

“But this is a very focused group, and they are intent on achieving that final goal.”


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