BURBANK HIGH — Things have been going relatively well this season for the Burbank High boys' volleyball team; for Bell-Jeff, not so much.
After reviving their varsity program this season after going winless on the junior varsity level last season, the Bulldogs won their fourth match in a row in comeback fashion Friday, fighting back from a one-game deficit to turn back the visiting Guards in a nonleague contest, 21-25, 25-14, 25-18, 25-21.
The win improves Burbank to 5-10.
For Bell-Jeff (1-7), a trying season got worse Friday. Prior to the match, Guards Coach Miguel Segura said senior outside hitter Nikola Ivic suffered an injury to his eye and what appeared to be a concussion when he attempted to do a back flip in the lobby of the Burbank gym prior to the match. Emergency medical technicians were called to the scene and Ivic was taken away on a stretcher.
The Guards have suffered several injuries to key players and Friday's incident added to a frustrating season.
"We had to switch the whole lineup again when we lost Nikola," Segura said. "Guys were playing out of position again, like we've been doing all season because of the injuries."
Despite the distraction, the Guards came out and won the first game, taking advantage of 17 Burbank errors. Bell-Jeff jumped out to an early 13-point lead, 17-4, before the Bulldogs mounted a comeback. Burbank got to within three points of the lead, 24-21, until a Burbank service error gave Bell-Jeff the game.
"I think that was the worst game we've played all season," Burbank Coach Patrick McMenamin said. "It was definitely frustrating for all of us. But I'm proud of our team and the way we were able to recover."
The Bulldogs received a match-high 11 kills from junior Elijah Cowart and 10 from junior Victor Mendoza. Junior teammate Paolo Fabregar contributed eight blocks, senior Armen Sargsyan had 46 assists and senior James Kim had 39 digs.
Bell-Jeff committed 11 service errors in the match, but had none in the opening game.
"That's why we won the first game," Segura said.
Burbank dominated the second game and came back in the third after being down, 13-12, following a 7-1 Bell-Jeff run. After the game was tied at 17, the Bulldogs ended the frame on their own 7-1 run.
The Guards again had the lead in the fourth, only to have Burbank snatch it back at 12-11. Bell-Jeff made it a two-point game, 23-21, before the Bulldogs closed out the match on a Bell-Jeff service error and a kill from Fabregar.
"We are starting to experience some success and I think that is fueling a little bit of confidence," McMenamin said. "But we want to make sure it remains authentic confidence and not false confidence."
The Guards received eight kills from senior Ignacio Cabrera and 12 assists from Colbert Orta.