ARCADIA — The Burbank High girls' volleyball team was fighting to stay in contention for a Pacific League championship when it took on host Arcadia on Tuesday.
With league-leading Burroughs sweeping the Apaches earlier this season and the Bulldogs taking a game off of the Indians in a match Thursday, Burbank figured to have a legitimate chance to earn a victory.
However, the Bulldogs definitely didn't play one of their best matches of the season, as they let the Apaches run the contest for the most part. The end result was a 26-24, 25-10, 25-22 win for Arcadia.
The victory keeps defending-champion Arcadia (11-5, 7-1 in league) — ranked No. 8 in CIF Southern Section Division II-A — a match behind Burroughs (12-3, 8-0). The loss drops Burbank to 9-4-1, 5-3 and seriously compromises any title hopes.
"We took a game off of them last time we played them," Burbank Coach Sarah Brown said of Arcadia, which has won 29 league championships in 33 years. "We thought we had a chance."
Brown saw her team put up a strong fight in the opening game, only to have things come crashing down around it.
The Bulldogs looked good early in the game, jumping out to a 5-2 advantage. But the Apaches embarked on a 6-0 run — fueled by some Burbank errors — to take an 8-5 advantage. The Bulldogs tied the score twice midway through the first game, but couldn't forge ahead.
Burbank was finally able to retake the lead, 15-14, and looked to be in control, 21-17, following an Arcadia hitting error. But the lead was short-lived, as the Apaches took advantage of two Burbank hitting errors and received kills from Catherine Su, Lauren Pulciano and Lexi Resch to move in front, 22-21.
The Bulldogs recovered, however, getting consecutive kills from Stephanie Eskander and Sharon Youn to go up by one. Arcadia then tied the score at 24 on a kill from Alyssa Leonen.
Burbank caught a break when Arcadia was called for a rotation error, giving the Bulldogs game-point. However, Burbank just couldn't close the door. A Bulldogs net violation was followed by a kill from Tori Park, giving the Apaches the game.
"We had game-point and we couldn't finish it," Brown said.
Burbank was paced by Eskander, who had a team-high 10 kills. Teammate Juliana Marx had three aces.
The first game proved to be the closest of the contest.
In the second game, the Bulldogs were never in it from the start. Arcadia, on the other hand, played almost flawlessly, committing just two unforced errors. Arcadia's biggest lead in the game was 17 at 23-6.
"I was not happy with the way we played at all," Brown said. "I don't know what happened.
"It's frustrating to know what they can do and not see them reach that level."
Burbank held the lead midway through the third game, 15-9. But again the Apaches didn't go quietly, as they stormed back to go up, 18-17. The Bulldogs got the lead back and led late, 22-21. However, Burbank hitting errors down the stretch helped Arcadia close out the match.
Leonen had a match-high 11 kills and Resch added eight.