BURROUGHS HIGH — For the most part, the Burroughs High girls' volleyball squad experienced little trouble getting past the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division II-A playoffs.
Granted, the Indians were expecting their first match of the playoffs to be Thursday with a first-round bye, but the team suddenly dropped to sixth in division rankings during the final week of the season — without losing a match — setting up Tuesday night's match at Burroughs.
Still, despite starting the postseason earlier than anticipated, the Pacific League champions came out focused and wasted little time sweeping visiting Paramount, 25-21, 25-12, 25-15, to advance to the second round.
Burroughs will play at 7 p.m. Thursday against the winner of Oxnard and Cerritos Valley Christian at a sit to be determined.
"You always want to keep moving on," said Burroughs Coach Edwin Real, who coached the Indians to an undefeated Pacific League season and the program's first league title since 2007. "This was good for us. If we had the bye, we would go over a week without playing a match and instead would have been just practicing."
Paramount, an at-large team from the San Gabriel Valley League, gave the Indians a tightly contested battle in the first game. The two teams took turns holding the lead four times and were knotted on six different occasions, including late in the game at 20.
The Pirates held a three-point lead midway through the game before the Indians reeled off five straight to take an 18-16 advantage. It was a see-saw battle up until that point, and thereafter, until the squads were tied at 20.
Eventually, the Indians (23-5) overcame the pressure and turned it up a notch, taking five of the final six points of the game to close it out on a Catarina Emerson ace.
Service errors did the Pirates (9-10) in during that first game, which would prove to be the only game ever in question as the Indians never trailed after Paramount scored the first point of the second game.
Laura Howard and Megan Stephenson led the offensive attack in a dominating second game for a Burroughs team that held a 20-8 advantage late en route to a double-digit win over a depleted Pirates squad who gave their best shot in the first.
"They gave us a good game in the beginning," Real said. "We weren't passing well, but once we settled down, we started playing better."
Five straight aces from Howard early in the third game gave the Indians a 7-1 lead. Almost identical to the second game, the Pirates scored the first point of the game and trailed throughout shortly after.
Depending on the outcome of the Oxnard and Valley Christian match, the Indians would either travel to Valley Christian or flip a coin to decide the location of a potential second-round match with Oxnard.
"This helped build our momentum," said Stephenson who led the team with seven kills and equaled Victoria Santos in digs with seven. "If we did have a bye, I think it would have brought us down, so I'm glad we played."
Emerson led the team in assists with 10 followed closely by Keana Figueroa with nine. Howard had 10 aces to add to her five kills.