ARCADIA — For a number of weeks, Thursday was a day that had been marked on the calendar of the Burroughs High girls’ volleyball team.
Since the Indians defeated the three-time defending Arcadia at home Sept. 27, they had been eyeing the date, knowing full well that the Apaches would be motivated by revenge in the second meeting between the two squads.
However, the motivation of winning their first league championship in four years and going undefeated in the process proved to be the driving force from the Indians.
Behind a strong performance from Megan Stephenson, Burroughs defeated the host Apaches in dominating fashion, 25-14, 25-11, 25-19, to sweep them for the second time this season.
The win keeps the Indians (15-3, 11-0 in league) on track to secure the league crown for the first time since 2007. More importantly, it gives Burroughs a two-game cushion over Arcadia (14-6, 9-2) with three league matches remaining.
Stealing a league championship against Arcadia has been a daunting task for opponents for more than three decades. Coming into the season, the Apaches had won 29 titles in the past 33 years.
“This was definitely a game that we had been looking forward to,” said Stephenson, a senior outside hitter. “We knew how important winning this one against Arcadia was if we wanted to win league and go undefeated. This is one that we really wanted to win.”
And Stephenson did her part. Despite being double- and triple-teamed at the net, the senior tallied a match-high 23 kills to go along with five digs. She has 261 kills on the season.
“She has really grown as a player and she has been so important for us this season,” said Burroughs Coach Edwin Real, who was the Indians’ coach when they captured a league title four years ago. “When we need to give her the ball we do, and she usually comes through for us.”
Burroughs came out fired up and Stephenson led the charge against Arcadia. In the first game, the Indians jumped out to a 6-0 lead. The Indians blockers shut down the Apaches attackers, as the visitors took Arcadia out of the game early.
In the second game, Stephenson came through with three kills and a block to stake the Indians to a 5-1 advantage.
“We really wanted to come out strong early in each of the games,” Stephenson said. “We were hoping by getting the lead early that we could take some pressure off of us.”
The Indians continued to dominate in the second game, leading throughout the contest. Arcadia never led in the match.
Down by eight mid-way through the third game, the Apaches went on a 4-1 run to cut the lead to four, 13-9. But Burroughs responded to the challenge and held the Apaches at bay for the reminder of the stanza.
Burroughs received nine kills from Laura Howard, eight from Tessa Dudley, 14 digs from Victoria Santos and 21 assists from Catarina Emerson.
The Indians, who are attempting to win their third league crown in 17 years, have a match at Pasadena on Tuesday, play at Hoover on Oct. 27 and end the league campaign with a home contest against cross-town rival Burbank on Nov. 1.
Burbank is the only team to win a game against the Indians in league this season.
“If we play the way we did today, no one is going to beat us the rest of the way in league,” Stephenson said.