THOUSAND OAKS — There was disappointment, frustration and some sorrow for members of the Burroughs High boys’ volleyball team when they lost in the CIF Southern Section Division III championship match Saturday.
Many believed the loss marked the end of a successful season for the Indians. However, the program got a lift when it received a berth in the Southern California Volleyball Championships.
Unfortunately for Burroughs, it was moved up to Division I for the state tournament, spelling tougher competition than it faced in the Southern Section tournament.
With new life, the No. 6-ranked Indians traveled to No. 3 Thousand Oaks on Tuesday for an opening-round match. Burroughs not only embraced its opportunity, but seized the chance to pull off an upset, rolling to a 25-22, 25-21, 23-25, 25-23 victory.
“It was all about redemption for us,” Burroughs Coach Joel Brinton said. “That’s what we talked about [Monday]. Everyone understood that we had a chance to redeem ourselves from our bad performance on Saturday.”
The win puts the Indians (34-4) into the second round of the state playoffs. Burroughs will take on host No. 2 Otay Ranch (30-7) from the San Diego Section at 7 p.m. Thursday. Otay Ranch defeated Santa Monica, 23-25, 25-19, 25-19, 25-15, in its opener Tuesday.
Burroughs junior middle blocker Ike Nwachie said his team definitely had a specific approach for state competition.
“We just came out here to have fun,” he said. “We really didn’t know what to expect. But we started winning and just started having fun with the whole thing. We knew coming in that we had nothing to lose, and that really allowed us to play a lot better.”
Senior setter Tyler Yanez did a fine job at continually getting the ball to his Burroughs teammates all match. He ended up with 41 assists. Junior middle blocker Robbie Rutecki led the team with 14 kills, while senior outside hitter Lucas Yanez and sophomore opposite Daniel Jacobs added 10 kills each, sophomore libero Derrick Nicandro had 14 digs and senior outside hitter Justin Llamas added 12 digs. Lucas Yanez also had 18 digs.
“One of the big keys for us is that we made it a goal to not let [Thousand Oaks] go on any big runs,” Brinton said. “Other than in that third game, I think we were able to do that.”
Burroughs led for most of the first game, but the Lancers (23-8) — runner-up from the Marmonte League — came back to tie the score late at 17. But a kill by Jacobs put the Indians back on top, and they never relinquished the lead.
Thousand Oaks had the lead early in Game 2, 3-1, only to have the Indians snatch it back at 10-9. Although Thousand Oaks was able to tie the score five more times, it couldn’t manage to lead again.
It looked as if the Indians were going to roll to a three-game sweep, leading, 20-15, in the third game. But mistakes began to plague Burroughs, allowing the Lancers to go on a 10-3 run to end the stanza with a win.
In the fourth game, Thousand Oaks came back to take a 16-15 advantage. But the Indians clawed their way back and were finally able to surge in front, 22-21, on a Lancers hitting error, completing a solid 5-1 run.
It was the first time Burroughs participated in state competition in program history.
The win allows the Indians to continue a record-breaking season. Along with winning its second-straight Pacific League championship, Burroughs advanced to a CIF Southern Section title match for the first time after not getting out of the second round in 2010. In addition, it has set a program record for victories in a season.